No 'Brokeback' on military bases

News & Politics

Just a flesh wound, nothing to worry about...

According to Nancy Montgomery's Stars & Stripes story, Brokeback Mountain's absence from military bases is due to the AAFES's complex selection process involving release dates, DVD release, studio size and print availability. Not gay sex.

Uhh, sure. So if Black Hawk Down was just released, it wouldn't cut it, eh? The regulations are too tortuous -- and it's not feasible for this blog -- to investigate, but the implication is that movies are chosen at one single point during the year. Otherwise, why would movies released late in the year not be eligible? Does the 2005 release date scare soldiers come '06?

But the requirement that a film not be too recently released is just for the Army and Air Force. The Navy requires that the film's it chooses not be too old. Seven weeks maximum which, unfortunately, excludes Brokeback for them as well. Amazing timing, that.

So I did the littlest bit of investigating to determine just how consistent these regulations are. This is a thoroughly unscientific investigation, mind you. I'm open to the possibility that these are hard and fast regulations that have nothing to do with erecting mind-numbingly bureaucratic roadblocks to accusations of bias, bigotry and censorship in the military. That I've misread something.

The reasons listed for exclusion from Army/Air Force facilities are:

  • Released too recently (Brokeback Release 12/9/05; Family Stone, currently playing in AAFES theaters, release 12/16/05)
  • Small or independent studio (Brokeback released by Focus Features which, according to AP is: "owned by NBC Universal, a joint venture of General Electric Co. and Vivendi Universal..."; Pride and Prejudice, currently playing, released by Focus Features)
  • 11 copies of the film required "[a] big investment on the distributors’ part." $14 million budget, roughly $50k for 11 more copies... is anyone asking?

And then there are the fairly subjective cherries on top, should someone come asking:
  • "In addition, AAFES chooses its first-run movies two months in advance, hoping for a movie with broad appeal, based on "studio buzz"...
  • "if the movie becomes available within 30 days of its home video and DVD release, AAFES doesn’t book it. While Brokeback Mountain is due for an April DVD release, theoretically it could be selected for regular release. But, Walters said, 'I’ve already committed to movies up through April for Europe.'"

I'm not saying conspiracy, I'm not saying it was banned, I'm just saying there's a point where bureaucracy gets to looking an awful lot like a method of control. (Huffington Post Wire)

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