Bil Browning

Gene Shalit Offers Defamatory 'Brokeback' Review

Filed By Bil Browning | January 05, 2006 11:25 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement

On Jan. 5, NBC News' Today show featured Gene Shalit's review of Brokeback Mountain on his regular "Critic's Corner" segment. Rather than focus on the merits of the film, Shalit - who has been a Today show regular for 31 years - used the occasion to promote defamatory anti-gay prejudice to a national audience.

In the piece, Shalit refers to Jake Gyllenhaal's character, Jack, as a "sexual predator" who "tracks Ennis down and coaxes him into sporadic trysts." Shalit's bizarre characterization of Jack as a "predator" and Ennis (Heath Ledger) as a victim reflects a fundamental lack of understanding about the central relationship in the film and about gay relationships in general. It seems highly doubtful that Shalit would similarly claim that Titanic's Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) was a "sexual predator" because he was pursuing a romantic relationship with Rose (Kate Winslet).

Shalit does offer a kind word for Ledger's performance and says Brokeback Mountain does have a few dramatic peaks" before calling the film "wildly overpraised, but not by me."

Shalit has every right as a film critic to criticize Brokeback Mountain. But his baseless branding of Jack as a "sexual predator" merely because he is romantically interested in someone of the same sex is defamatory, ignorant and irresponsible. And it is equally irresponsible for NBC News to have given Shalit a platform for his gratuitously offensive comments.

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I haven't seen the movie yet, so I really have no basis for critiquing it myself, but I'm going to go out on a limb here and play devil's advocate.

From what I've heard from some friends that have seen it, they might agree that Jack is not a nice character. And I've been around the block enough to know that there is such a thing as a gay sexual predator. Maybe Shalit didn't describe Leonardo as such because Leonardo didn't practically rape Kate Winslet.

Second, Gene Shalit is a "movie critic." And he's a critical critic: he's not very kind to very many movies, from what I've seen. So maybe Gene was just being Gene.

But like I said, I'll have to reserve judgement until I see the movie, myself.

I saw the movie last night and I don't believe Jack was a "sexual predator" at all. He did initiate their first time together, but actually it is Enis that takes it from there. I also read on that Shalit has a gay son and wrote an article a few years ago supporting him. I don't know. I just wish he didn't use the term "sexual predator" but I guess that's his choice as a critic. I would have to disagree though. I really liked the film and empathized with the guys for not being willing or able to embrace their feelings for each other for the rest of their lives, not just on fishing trips.

I dunno about the film, haven't seen it (but I guess I will wait til DVD release).

I like Gene's moustache though, you can't argue w/ that.

We saw the movie yesterday. I was looking for any signs of "sexual predator-ship" and couldn't find any. As Kris said, Jack began the relationship but Enis was certainly willing. I think the two men grew to really care about each other. I also don't think Jack was unlikeable. What saddened me most is the fact that society doesn't allow or even encourage people to care for whom they want to care for, and be with the people who make them happy. Of course, as a wife, I could understand how bitter Enis' wife was - after all, they were married. So you really have two issues here - infidelity and "the gay thing". Infidelity is infidility no matter what. But as I said, the larger issue is how society treats GLBTs. If society was more permissive back then (and even now), the two men could have left their wives and had a life together.

Ride'emcowboy | January 8, 2006 2:46 PM

Yeeee haaaa!! About somebody had the balls to put these perverts in their place!

It's Adam and Eve, not Adam and STEVE!!

Way to go Gene!

to annette (above)

*yawn* don't you people ever get over using that idiotic insult? that line is SOOO tired...

if compulsory heterosexuality could have made me as trite and insulting as that...thank the universe i'm a dyke!

whoops! (just in case my first comment posted) this is actually addressed to "rideemcowboy" and not annette (above)

*yawn* don't you people ever get over using that idiotic insult? that line is SOOO tired...

if compulsory heterosexuality could have made me as trite and insulting as that...thank the universe i'm a dyke!

Sean Ireland | January 9, 2006 8:16 AM

I saw Brokeback Mountain on January 7, 2006. It finally opened in the bluc collar city of Windsor, Ontario. I fell in love with this film right away. In all the years that I have been seeing gay films, this is the closest I have ever felt about a film that got the idea right of what it feels like for two men to be in love. Thank you Heath and Jake and Ang for doing a wonderful love story.

What upset me the most about the review is his reference to the two guys "Having sex". Did he watch the movie? They fell in love!! Its a little different that just having sex. If the thinks Jack was a Sexual Predator he saw a different movie than i did.It all amounts to Gene being so overwhelmed that it was 2 guys together he could not watch the show and if thats the case he should not have written a review on a movie he didn't see or understand!

Gene is full of crap!

Did he even see the film?!?!?!
Come on, I've spent my entire life watching guys going after gals in films mainly for the sole purpose of getting laid! If Gene considers Jack a predator for coming on to Enis, then EVERY man I've seen in straight films is a friging predator!
How insulting!

what a joke you people are | January 17, 2006 12:24 PM

Who wants to see two rump-riding cowboys humping each other? Just because they're butch and don't fit the sissy doesn't mean that their actions should be accepted.

I saw and felt so much when I saw the film, and of course, talked with my closest gay friend..we did see some things differently, and I believe that what Mr. Shalit said reflected what he actually perceived. My friend saw 'Jake' as much more aggressive than I saw him; saw many things in teir relationship from a different sexual viewpoint, different 'sexual-orientation viewpoint', different age viewpoint(15 years). Perhaps Mr. Shalit can be seen as stating what he actually perceived, sincerely believed, considering HIS age, cultural background, personal orientation, etc. I DO agree that anyone who speaks or writes to/for the public can affect opinion, and all of us need to think twice when phrasing our thoughts..words CAN hurt.

I live at 57285 Commonwealth in Seattle. Been up here before?