Brokeback pyramid

BY Bruce Vilanch

January 30 2006 1:00 AM ET

People keep
telling me there’s never been anything like
Brokeback Mountain. But they’ve
never been inside the Step Pyramid in the necropolis
of Saqqâra, not far outside Cairo. Let me explain.

In Brokeback
Mountain
two men living otherwise heterosexual lives
reunite periodically to renew their homosexual relationship,
which is the only true love they have ever known. Call
it Same Time, Next Rear if you’re
someone looking for a fabulous cheap pun that you
can’t use on the Oscar broadcast (that would be
me, your honor). This tender and beautifully rendered
tale has caused all the predictable controversy. My
favorite cannon lobs from the right wing have included the
notion that the film besmirches the fine and noble
tradition of the Western movie. I guess that would be
the tradition of slaughtering white guys painted up as
Indians while stealing their land for eventual regifting
with a gambling license. My other favorite is the idea
that the movie is part of a long-simmering plot to
forward that ol’ devil gay agenda, as opposed to
agenda-free little items like The Passion of the
Christ,
which has been seen by more people than
ever will see Brokeback Mountain.

I think
Brokeback Mountain will survive all of this and
live forever as one of the most profound works of art
ever to tackle the issue of what happens when a person
represses his true self. But we shouldn’t
confuse the movie with real life. In real life there are gay
cowboys and much more exotic characters besides.

The day after I
saw Brokeback Mountain at a multiplex in
Hollywood, I opened The New York Times and got a
glimpse of what was going on at the necropolis near
Cairo. The Egyptians have resisted the urge to tear
down the pyramids and build a nice mall and have instead
encouraged scientists to keep coming over to figure out
what’s stuffed away in the ruins. One find is
still mysterious. Carved in stone on a tomb wall are
two similar-looking men locked in an embrace, possibly even
a nose kiss, which was the preferred way of getting your
groove on in the fifth dynasty of the Old Kingdom
(roughly 2380–2330 B.C.). Though not of the
nobility, it turns out they are two fellows who served as,
brace yourself, manicurists to the king.

Conventional
wisdom had it that the men were twins, which would account
for their devotion to each other. Later scientists said that
their earlier colleagues were merely being polite and
that the nail-trimmers were actually lovers. The very
latest scholar to chime in offered another theory:
They were pictured together not because they were close but
because they were literally inseparable—conjoined
twins. An archaeological long shot, but it created
enough stir to get the manicurists back into the
Times. And it got me to thinking—suppose
they were boyfriends? Were they a scandal? Evidently not.
Otherwise why would they be buried together in a tomb
of honor, surrounded by riches? Did the Egyptian right
wing claim that they had besmirched the great
tradition of royal manicurists? Doubtful. Did the honors
bestowed upon them recruit new homosexuals, or, more
to the point, did they threaten heterosexual marriage
in the Old Kingdom? We probably would have heard. Will
the foolishness of the right wing last as long as the
pyramids? Don’t bet on it, pardner.

Tags: Commentary

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