The irony is that Proulx comes so very close to identifying a probable cause for the influx of sentimental fan fiction. Her story ends – spoiler alert – with the murder of Jack in a homophobic assault. It is this which has led readers to propose future partners and a brighter future for Ennis. “[They] can’t understand that the story isn’t about Jack and Ennis,” she says. “It’s about homophobia; it’s about a social situation; it’s about a place and a particular mindset and morality. They just don’t get it.”
Or maybe they do – and more intimately than she realises. There is a clear psychological motive behind “fixing” in works of art the errors we experience in life. That is the very basis of escapism and wish-fulfilment. Gay readers are no less susceptible to it than anyone else.
The irony is that it’s the Guardian writer who comes so close to identifying etc. too. But doesn’t quite get there, either.
The thing is:
The tiresome tropes in Brokeback Mountain — Gay Dude Gets Killed For Being Gay/Being Gay Is Oh So Lonely and Tragic — was dated and corny during the era in which the fictional murder occurs (1983), and when the story came out in 1997 — let alone when the movie was released — thanks in large part to Vito Russo’s efforts in The Celluloid Closet (1981.)
It’s amusing that straight-woman-Proulx is bitching about gay readers undermining her “realistic” message — “violent homophobia is everywhere” — whereas the readers (who should and do know better) are requesting what she sees as a false “romantic” conclusion.
Yet the impulse toward “romance” is, ironically, more realistic: actual cases of homophobic violent crime are low.
Yes, as a writer, I HATE it when people presume to suggest/insist that I write about this or that, even when they come to me with good ideas. And I don’t like people “touching my stuff” either.
However, in this case, she’s clearly missing the point:
Proulx herself is really the one writing “fan(tasy)/slash fiction.”
Her fans are actually longing for realism and humanity, and rejecting her abstract “eat your spinach” didactisism.
I’d bet they also subconsciously reject being puppets or Barbie dolls or “educational toys” in a straight woman’s (allegedly well-intentioned but really self-serving) money-making morality play.
Maybe if your supposed audience — the poor peasants you’re trying to “help” with your Lady Bountiful act — are telling you they don’t want your pity, you should listen?
Anyhow, it’s fun watching lefties fight their little victim vs. victim civil wars.