Interesting take on Brokeback Mountain and masculinity from The New Republic's Chris Orr. He maintains that Brokeback Mountain, apart from its gay themes, touches deeply on issues concerning a man's place in the modern world. About Jack and Ennis, Orr says:
It's no coincidence that, with the exception of their first, hurried reunification, their time together is spent not in discreet motels or open-minded cities but in the great outdoors. There, Jack and Ennis are free to be not merely gay men, but men--cooking over a fire and sleeping under the stars, unburdened by the neutering demands of domesticity, of children and wives and bills to pay.
I like Orr's list (after the article) of Westerns that re-write the genre, including John Wayne's fascinating turn in The Searchers (don't ever let anyone tell you Wayne didn't have chops; he did), Clint Eastwood's magnificently bleak Unforgiven, and what may be my favorite Western of all, Sergio Leone's operatically intense Once Upon a Time in the West. As a writer (and gay man) who seeks the freedom to practice his craft as a way of life, I can relate to a lot of what Orr says here about men in conflict with the soul-destroying characteristics of quotidian, modern life. Fascinating stuff.