When Jack and Ennis Meet: Cruising as a Mode of Gay Spectatorship

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:
When Jack and Ennis Meet: Cruising as a Mode of Gay Spectatorship

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This chapter focuses on a sequence of shots in Brokeback Mountain and their relationship to gay spectatorship. It examines interrelationships between gay male cruising, spectatorship and editing, and presents an argument based around a shot/reverse shot structure. These shots refer to Jack and Ennis's first encounter and the way they are presented may strike a chord of recognition with the gay spectator because it resembles cruising. This opening scene privileges the knowledge of the gay spectator as a cultural viewer who identifies the silent codes of exchange between two homosexual men. As a formal system, editing is different from narrative yet it contributes to the overall meanings generated by the film in terms of how shot relations position us to see narrative events and understand Jack and Ennis's relationship. This is most evident in how their desire for one another and the history of their relationship is, this chapter claims, in part told through shot relations. This chapter also discusses suture to help explain how cruising and spectatorship relate to one another through a chain of shots.

Keywords: Brokeback Mountain; gay spectatorship; cruising; homosexual men; editing; shot relations; shot/reverse shot; suture

Chapter.  11031 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Film

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