December 28, 2005
Written by C.N.
Many of you have probably heard about Chinese American director Ang Lee’s latest movie Brokeback Mountain, a story about two cowboy ranch hands who have a gay love affair. In a recent issue of AsianWeek Magazine, Ang Lee discusses his thoughts on what Asians, gays, and cowboys share:
Question: Cowboys are not known for openly expressing their emotions. Asians share a similar stereotype. Do you see any parallels between Asians and cowboys in how they deal with taboo sexual subjects such as homosexuality?
Ang Lee: I see the themes of repression in Brokeback Mountain as being universal regardless of culture. However, it is true that Eastern culture and the nature of cowboys share a certain indirectness, quiet nature, and use of body language to communicate that are quite similar. There are similarities in the art of the two cultures as well –– they both emphasize feelings of sadness, melancholy, and expansive space through various media.
The difference is that Western culture is more macho, whereas Eastern culture is –– more lunar and feminine in nature. Thus, when it comes to attitudes about homosexuality, my personal theory is that Eastern culture is more relaxed than in the West. This stems from a difference in why a culture perceives homosexuality to be wrong –– in Western culture, it stems from religion, and you are condemned if you are gay.
Eastern culture seems more, flexible –– and being gay is more of a social issue than a religious one; there is no deity to offend.
Whether or not you’re a fan of Ang Lee’s movies, you’ve got to admire him for achieving success on his own terms and not being afraid to do what he wants, whether it relates to portrayals of Asians or gay cowboys. Keep up the good work, Ang.
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Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Ang Lee and his Thoughts" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2005/12/ang-lee-and-his-thoughts/> ().
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