Commonly billed and referred to as the "gay cowboy movie" Brokeback Mountain is actually about shepherds, argues Solomon Grundy: "I used to work on a cattle ranch, and the distinctive thing about cowboys is that they work with cows."
Snark aside, he points out that despite the cowboy iconography and the ubiquitous label, the fact that they were shepherds was crucial to Annie Proulx's story, which he quotes: "That spring, hungry for any job, each had signed up with Farm and Ranch EmploymentÃ¢â‚¬â€they came together on paper as herder and camp tender for the same sheep operation north of Signal."
Grundy breaks it down:
"Perhaps I'm being a pedantic little fuck, but the whole story is premised on Ennis and Jack being a specific kind of down-and-out loner. Cowboys are more macho and socially esteemed, whereas shepherds are outcasts. Jack and Ennis are the types of guys who'd never be trusted as cowboys. They simply couldn't handle it. The prevailing opinion would have been that all they're good for is minding sheep, which even a dog could do. It's an important part of the story that they're so low on the social totem pole that they're shepherds, rather than cowboys."In a largely unrelated development, Curb Your Enthusiasm's Larry David will NOT see the movie for fear that it will turn him gay. I, for one, refuse to even watch the commercials. Have you seen how good they look? Dangerous. (Left Behinds; hat tip: Direland)
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