Chapter

Queering the Western

Gary Needham

in Brokeback Mountain

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780748633821
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748651252 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748633821.003.0003
Queering the Western

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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

Chapter.  19188 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Film

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