Sunday, January 08, 2006

"Woa There, Cowboy!"

In my mind's eye, I never thought that there would be lines stretched around the block to see "Brokeback Mountain" in the sprawling suburbs of Salt Lake City. Perhaps the film's setting, just up the road a piece in neighboring Wyoming, would stir interest, but I doubt most God-fearing (or LDS church fearing, whichever) people in Utah were going to care about the film one way or the other. And, I am also fairly certain that the folks at Focus Features, River Road Entertainment and Universal Pictures were not counting on the extra income generated from Utah showings to ensure the quarterly bottom-line. So, something that would have been a non-event has, yet again, become an event...

Frank Miller, the owner of the Megaplex at Jordan Commons (and the owner of the Utah Jazz basketball franchise) in Sandy (a suburb of Salt Lake City), Utah has decided that showing "Brokeback Mountain" was not in someone's interest. We're not sure who's interest is being protected since, at the time of this writing, no statement has been released to provide the reason the film was quickly pulled on Friday. I'm sure it was a business decision and nothing more. It would have to be, right? I mean CBC reports that Mr. Miller stated during an interview with KCPW-FM radio, "I don't think I'm qualified to be a community censor." So, now that we've got that uncomfortable little tidbit out of the way, we can explore what must be the real reason behind the sudden, unexplained and unusual removal of the film from the rotation at the Jordan Commons Megaplex 17 (and, I'm assuming, the other Miller-owned Megaplexes). Look, the guy only has 17 screens (correct me on that if I'm wrong...), so what can he do? He has a decent, upright and family-oriented community to serve. He can't waste precious screen time on some no-name movie that will probably go nowhere in the box office or with the critics. Utah wants wholesome, moral and uplifting films and Larry Miller is going to deliver for his community. Taking a quick look at his theater's web site I can see why Mr. Miller needed to remove "Brokback Mountain": He needed to make room for child and Mormon-safe films such as "Hostel", "Casanova" and, of course, "Grandma's Boy". So, you see, dear readers, he really had no choice. Now get off the man's back!

Look folks, I try to be open-minded, I really do. I'm going to state right off the bat that Larry Miller has the right not to show these films. He owns the theater and he can do with it what he wants. Do I like it? No. Do I respect his right to use his business in this way? Alas, I do. What I don't like is his duplicity of character. How can a man say that he isn't qualified to be the community censor on Thursday and then yank a controversial film on Friday without so much as a cowpoke joke? He scheduled the film, found out what it was and then pulled it with a call to someone using his forked tongue.

How can somone who feels that a homosexual love story is morally wrong justify showing a film like "Hostel", which touts itself as the most graphically violent film of all time? Is it taking the moral high ground to refuse to show the physical act of love between two men, yet make available the indescribable inference that a 71 year-old American icon, Shirley Jones, Mrs. Partridge for God's sake, gets stoned (no, not a good old-fashioned stoning Larry, but a Mary-jew-waanaa stoning) and also gets nailed by the grandson of her roommate? Good grief, to what will THAT drive Danny Bonaduce?

In the end, we all know what this is: censorship. Now that, oddly enough, is fine with me in this case as long as you call it what it is rather than stand behind some self-appointed moral office. Just say it Larry: "I don't want to see fags screwing!" I'd respect that more than what has happened here. Hell, even Pat Robertson is man enough to state his innane ramblings and allow us to judge the contents one way or the other. The irony here is that Mr. Miller has probably gone and stirred up more business for this film than he ever could imagine. Had he just offered it as an option and allowed the public to vote with their wallet, it would have closed the next week and no one would have cared. Of course that wouldn't have been the God-fearing thing to do, but it would have been the American thing to do.

Megaplex Theaters
CBC Story


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