One of my all time favorite movies is Midnight Cowboy, for reasons that go beyond being a mere devotee of the acting of Dustin Hoffman, or  the music of Henry Nilsson, a fan of the young Jon Voight, or practitioner of  deconstructionism. Or the fact that  it only got a showing at the seedy theaters in my town when it came out.

It is one of the best, most insightful scripts I have ever read too, and in fact the background guys–like song writer Fred Neil, and script writer Waldo Salt, who survived and thrived after being blacklisted during the red scare of McCarthy–are more incredible than the actors .

Here’s the intro clip:

Midnight Cowboy is the only X rated film in history to ever receive an Oscar. Maybe it was the “gay theme” or maybe it was because it was one of the rare films in all of history to examine the issue of women who sexually abuse young boys; and how women are complicit, if not instrumental  in shaping the sexuality of children (no pun intended–but you will see what I mean). Here is a bit of Joe Bucks nightmare:

Zoom close-up -- Anastasia screaming soundlessly...
... thermometer under Little Joe's tongue... 
... Sally Buck shoves chocolate in her mouth... 
... bewigged poodle licks her fingers... 
... Sally Buck hangs enema can on bedpost... 
... Ratso leads ratpack chasing naked Anastasia... 
... corona of flashlights...

I still remember the run-down, dirty white theater fronts that had it up on the marquee in blue letters, or red; and everything about cowboys fascinated me in that era.Certainly everything about the forbidden letter X fascinated me too.

Being stoic, self reliant, silently suffering  cowboys was what they taught boys to be back then, and to think about being when we got older–little men running around with guns that go *BANG!*,  fighting the bad Indians, and the ‘bad men’ who were-apparently-everywhere. And certainly, we were taught to always tip our hats for the ladies–even if they were sticking enemas in our asses.

But by the time I was old enough to watch it myself, some fifteen or years later, it showed me some things about cowboys that John Wayne and the other cowboy as uber-man posturing of that era never did, and I liked that too.

But I like Midnight Cowboy because it’s just plain old, incredibly good film, full of stunningly complex images that are explained to us with remarkable simplicity.

Midnight Cowboy

Original Movie Poster

Very few films address sex and gender imbalances in ways that are inclusive of the recognition that men are engendered in certain ways that women cannot, or will not understand, even when they see it in action. Women as a rule are either not equipped to understand the male experience, or because of the nature of woman is equipped only to stare at herself, and issues that reflect herself constantly–or something like that…;-)

In the case of Joe Buck, the intrepid male prostitute, our character learns that the world is not equal, and we, as an audience, learn a bit about what creates false constructs of sexuality in the mind of a young boy. And how those constructs lead to poor choices.

In one scene we have the gang rape of a woman who could aptly be called “the town pump”, and Joe Bucks inability to stop that rape–of the woman who he thinks he loves; in another scene, aptly a nightmare, we have Joe Buck being anally raped by his grandmother; and the all too obvious conclusion that male sexuality is undervalued, or disposable to women.

It’s a film about the awakening of America to issues of  the human body as a commodious object, and the reality of under-valued male love. It’s a gay film in as much as it has a theme of men, loving each other, or men who are used by other men, but it’s a human story beyond that.

If you haven’t seen it, rent it, and if you have seen it, rent it again. Or just have a good read tonight--here’s the script.

 

Comments
  1. […] Midnight Cowboy, 1969: a masterpiece of deconstruction, and a harbinger of dialectic double standard… (pornalysis.wordpress.com) […]

  2. […] Midnight Cowboy, 1969: a masterpiece of deconstruction, and a harbinger of dialectic double standard… says: October 31, 2011 at 11:28 pm […]

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