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Brokeback Mountain$
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Gary Needham

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780748633821

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748633821.001.0001

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Queering the Western

Queering the Western

Chapter:
(p.31) 2. Queering the Western
Source:
Brokeback Mountain
Author(s):

Gary Needham

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748633821.003.0003

One of the most contested and risible issues surrounding Brokeback Mountain was its generic status as a Western. In part, this was because the Western has close ties with American history and national mythology as well as links with certain forms of normative and hegemonic masculinity, often idealised as stoic, conservative and, most of all, ‘straight’. With the film questioning directly all these staples of masculinity, this chapter explores and validates Brokeback Mountain as a Western and utilises queer theory to demonstrate how the Western film genre can be rethought in alternative ways. It also positions Brokeback Mountain within a wider historical net concerning the links between the Western and homosexuality, a net that dates back to classical Westerns such as Red River (1948) and extends to underground films such as Andy Warhol's Horse (1965). The chapter considers a wider set of questions and issues that allows sexual politics and queerness to be articulated in relation to one of American cinema's most precious and enduring film genres.

Keywords:   Brokeback Mountain, Western, masculinity, homosexuality, queer theory, Red River, Horse, sexual politics, queerness

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