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FACING MECCA FROM LOGAN: Muslims gather for Friday prayers in a new Pixel photoessay. / Photo by Sarah Ali

Today's word on journalism

Friday, May 12, 2006


PETERSBORO, Utah -- Gloom like a Bulwer-Lyttonesque pall hung heavily over the Cache Valley as word came that the WORD had gone.

"As he stared at her ample bosom, he daydreamed of the dual Stromberg carburetors in his vintage Triumph Spitfire. . . ." No, wait. . . . That's actual Bulwer-Lyttonism. Scratch it.

We conclude, with joy and trumpets and a tankard or two, the 10th season of TODAY'S WORD ON JOURNALISM. What began in 1995 as a professor's strategy to get his students to read email (guess that worked!) now has spread, birdflu-like, far beyond that unwilling audience to self-flagellating WORD volunteers on five-and-a-half continents. But the willing and unwilling alike--the halt and addled and addicted and deluded--will have to get a life and smell the roses, for a while anyway.

Today marks the end of the WORD for this academic season. Even ere the rosy dawn that didth bust o'er this glade, this vale, this happy home. . . . ooops. Avert already, Sir Bulwer, you mangy cur!!!!

See you in the fall. . . TP

What does it mean when Larry H. Miller pulls 'Brokeback' but shows 'Hostel'?

By Jack Saunders

April 24, 2006 | I'm very familiar with Jazz owner and the you-know-this-guy, car-dealing czar Larry H. Miller. Miller, during the opening weekend of Brokeback Mountain at his Salt Lake Jordan Commons Megaplex this spring pulled the picture hours before its Utah début.

Of course this sparked a fiery controversy with community members. Supposedly Miller had just heard that morning that the film was about homosexuality and made the call to pull the film. Miller is known for his deep religious conviction. He doesn't go to Jazz games on Sundays and bankrolls LDS film projects.

The controversy, of course, was good publicity for Brokeback. As a limited-release film Brokeback surpassed box office predictions and received all kinds of accolades. It also did well in Utah and eventually came to Logan and stayed for an astonishing four weeks (those of you who know Logan, know that that's saying something).

Miller, when asked by the local media as to why he did it, said he didn't agree with the content and got a lot of flak and praise for saying that. My straight-arrow father called him a hero. Others called him a hypocrite, pointing out other films that the church would also frown upon that were shown in his theaters at the same time as Brokeback. Case in Point, Eli Roth's Hostel. After having seen both films, I can't help but comment.

Hostel is brutally baked with decapitations, chainsaw limb hacking, disembowelments, eye plucking and brick-powered skull bashing. In addition it blows Brokeback out of the water in the sex/nudity category as well. This film boarders on NC-17 and by nature is anti-American, inhumane, sadistic, cruel and bloodthirsty. But, one thing is for sure there are no homosexuals -- if anything, the film is also anti-gay. One scene shows a man on a train touch the knee of the man he's sitting next to. He gets called a "faggot."

In contrast, Brokeback is the classic, tragic love story. It follows the romantic and secretive 20-year relationship of cowboys Jack and Enos and profoundly defies the stereotypical masculine nature of the cowboy image. It provokes altered, off-the-beaten-path thinking and promotes conversation about the traditionally taboo subject of homosexuality. It's also a reflective portrait of small-town America and typical conservative, xenophobic closed-mindedness.

So, is Miller heroic for standing up for his values and standards or is he just another homophobe? Had he seen both films would his decision still have been the same?

Perhaps this is just another illustration on mainstream society's homophobia. Does showing Hostel over Brokeback imply that Miller would rather promote brutality and merciless killings over homosexuality? If the content concern for Miller was sex scenes, why didn't he pull Hostel and many other films like it that showcase explicit erotica? Would he rather watch people die than see men kiss?

At the time's of Miller's decision I posed this hypothetical question to a co-worker while conversing about the situation: "Would you rather watch two guys kiss or someone get decapitated?" Surprisingly his answer was the later. My co-worker is a non-traditional male nurse and just got his doctorate. I was banking on a different answer from him. So maybe Miller's not so far off. Maybe the latter would be the consensus of most Americans. I would like to hope it wouldn't be.


Copyright 1997-2005 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-1000
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