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Archive of December 16, 2005

USCCB reclassifies gay Western "Brokeback Mountain" after complaints

Washington D.C., Dec 16, 2005 (CNA) - "Brokeback Mountain," originally rated L (limited adult audience) by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has been reclassified as an O (morally offensive) after several pro-family organizations expressed concern for what they saw as an implicit endorsement of the USCCB film critic to the controversial gay western.

Brokeback Mountain is the story of two sheep-herding cowboys in Wyoming who begin a homosexual relationship on the range in the 1960s, and continue their affair even after they marry women.

The $13-million film garnered seven Golden Globe nominations from foreign film critics.

Director Ang Lee’s homosexual Western premiered last weekend in limited release. Showing in five theaters in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, the film grossed $544,549, averaging $108, 910 per theater. A wider release is slated on December 16, with a nationwide release in January.

In the original comment posted on the USCCB's website, the reviewer wrote that the Catholic Church "makes a distinction between homosexual orientation and activity," and that "Ennis and Jack's continuing physical relationship is morally problematic."

"While the actions taken by Ennis and Jack cannot be endorsed, the universal themes of love and loss ring true," said the original USCCB's review, which also called the movie "a serious contemplation of loneliness and connection."

"Looked at from the point of view of the need for love which everyone feels but few people can articulate, the plight of these guys is easy to understand while their way of dealing with it is likely to surprise and shock an audience," the original USCCB review said.

“Brokeback is the ‘Perfect Storm’ of Hollywood’s war on morality,” said Robert Knight, director of Concerned Women for America’s (CWA’s) Culture & Family Institute (CFI). “It combines high production values with a lowdown attack on morality. It’s a mockery of the Western genre embodied by every movie cowboy from John Wayne to Gene Autry to Kevin Costner. I can’t think of a more effective way to annoy and alienate most movie-going Americans than to show two cowboys lusting after each other and even smooching.

After several pro-life and pro-family websites strongly criticized the original review, the USCCB decided on Friday to change its classification, while still providing a very positive description of the film.

"Brokeback Mountain, originally rated L (limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling) has been reclassified as an O (morally offensive). This has been done because the serious weight of the L rating -- which restricts films in that category to those who can assess from a Catholic perspective the moral issues raised by a movie -- is, unfortunately, misunderstood by many. Because, in this instance, there are some who are using the "L" rating to make it appear the Church -- or the USCCB -- position on homosexuality is ambiguous, the classification has been with revised specifically to address its moral content," says the new USCBB posting.

The new full review of the USCBB can be seen at:
http://www.usccb.org/movies/b/brokebackmountain.shtml

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