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13 January 2006

Opinion Diversity in New Talibania

Salt Lake City was the host of the 2002 Winter Olympics. I was looking for the official souvenir pin. I don't think this is it.

If you're driving from USA coast to coast, I think there are highways you can use so you don't have to go through Utah.

Fact is, Utah has gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders, hippies, atheists, agnostics, Jews, African-Americans, Hispanics, just about every Christian denomination, alcohol-drinkers, tobacco smokers, cannabis tokers -- and even a bunch of breakaway outlaw Mormon polygamists, whom God put there to provide a constant source of shocking news stories for TV Tabloid "News Magazine" shows. (To be admitted into the Union, the LDS/Mormon Church agreed to outlaw polygamy.) The best parts of these TV shows are the interviews with all the wives in the big house trailer explaining how they all get along, and how they all defer to the authority of the husband when there's any friction among the wives. Google "polygamy" "Utah", have a good time.

Utah is perfectly representative of the United States of America in 1955. Eisenhower's the President, and everybody has puppies and freckles.

Salt Lake City is on the World Short List of Most Boring Cities right up there with Singapore and Seoul. I'm pretty sure I was there once, but I don't remember anything -- there was this Big Lake, I think I remember a Big Lake.

Helsinki had (and still has a few survivors of) the Nihilistic Thrash Punk Suicidal Self-Destructive Ur-Punk Band Hanoi Rocks. If you know of a comparable musical organization from Salt Lake City, please Leave A Comment. All I know is Donny and Marie Osmond and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Oh -- about Larry Miller booking "Brokeback Mountain" into his movie theater but not knowing what the movie was about until a radio show phoned him ...

Vleeptron wishes to point out that on 26 September 2005, Lenny and Spike, the irresponsible teenagers from Planet Yobbo, hacked into the Vleeptron computer and clued everybody in. As always, when It Happens, you get it first on Vleeptron.


Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City, Utah USA)
Friday 13 January 2006

[Vleeptron geohistory note: Deseret was the name of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints / Mormon theocracy before its admission as the state of Utah in the United States.]

Yanking film shows
Miller's inconsistency

by Chris Hicks

Hey, you know this guy. You know him well enough, anyway, to know that his yanking "Brokeback Mountain" from his Jordan Commons theaters was a knee-jerk reaction.

That's car-dealer/Jazz owner Larry Miller, of course.

A week or so ago, after being told by a radio talk-show host that one of his theaters was scheduled to open "Brokeback Mountain" last Friday, and then being apprised of the R-rated film's story -- about a pair of cowboys who enter into a gay relationship -- Miller decided to cancel his contract for the film.

Unfortunately, it was too late to cancel Friday's newspaper ads, so when people got wind of it, Miller was both vilified and called a hero.

Perhaps I'm alone in thinking this isn't much of a news story -- and judging from the ink it's generated, that seems to be the case -- but what's the big deal?

And why have people been dropping the c-word ... "censorship"?

This is not censorship. This is a movie finding itself in three of the county's venues instead of four.

Last Friday, the movie was still playing in three other local theaters -- the Broadway downtown, the Century on 3300 South and State, and another multiplex that's right up the road from Jordan Commons, the Cinemark Theatres at Jordan Landing.

Oh, it was probably a dumb thing for Miller to do, especially the way he did it. At the last minute, after the ad was already in the paper, so that people showed up at Jordan Commons to see the film and were turned away.

Turning away customers -- that can't be good for business.

And will someone in the mood to see "Brokeback Mountain" really want to settle for "Hostel" or "The Chronicles of Narnia"?

On the other hand, you can get from Jordan Commons to Jordan Landing before you can say, "The Jazz are winning again."

Anyway, let's not kid ourselves. Miller's quick decision was not a business decision. Does it make good business sense to pull "Brokeback Mountain" when it's already on its way to becoming a box-office blockbuster? Especially when you're still showing "The Work and the Glory: American Zion" to a virtually empty auditorium every night?

But, hey, it's his theater. And if he wants to show "The Work and the Glory" on every screen -- or sell Edsels in his auto dealerships -- that's his prerogative.

I'm not going to get into stone-throwing, as some people already have, about Miller's restaurants serving liquor or his theaters being open on Sunday. Judge not, I say.

But I do find it curious that he pulled "Brokeback Mountain" -- a film that has won many awards and is well on its way to being the Oscar front-runner -- while allowing others to continue to run, including such indefensible sleaze as "Hostel" and "Grandma's Boy."

On the other hand, if it's just because "Brokeback Mountain" is a gay-themed film . . . and it is, though no one will say so ... perhaps Miller should become better informed about some of the other products he's selling.

Both "The Family Stone" and "The Producers," which have been at Jordan Commons for several weeks, have very strong gay themes.

And Miller's TV station KJZZ shows daily reruns of "Will & Grace" -- a very raunchy sitcom and a prominent gay program -- at 6:30 p.m.! That's not just the "family hour" -- it's before the "family hour."

It's hard to imagine that he's this ill-informed about the cars he sells.

Still, I don't really care what he does with his theaters -- and if he had done what he did a day earlier, no one would have noticed or cared.

What's most noticeable here is Miller's lack of consistency.
Miller's not talking, of course. He'd like this all to go away.

But it would be interesting to hear what made him decide that "Brokeback Mountain" was worse than all these other shows.

That is, if he's even aware of the other shows.


The Daily Utah Chronicle
Salt Lake City, Utah USA
student newspaper of the University of Utah

Monday 9 January 2006

The Shinebox:

Mamas, don't let your babies
grow up to be gay cowboys

by Chris Bellamy [Chronicle's movie columnist]

Soon everyone will be having gay cowboy sex.

Once those impressionable kids get a whiff of Wyoming sheepherders penetrating the depths of their homosexual longings, it's gonna be a free-for-all. Utahns far and wide will begin trekking into the vast wilderness of the Salt Lake Valley, finding a lonely cowboy named Jack Twist and having their way with him. Everybody will be having sex with cowboys.

Drew Bledsoe and Keyshawn Johnson, watch your asses!

Or so say Larry Miller and friends ... although not in so many words.

One of Miller's movie theaters, Megaplex 17 at Jordan Commons, was scheduled to show "Brokeback Mountain" starting this past Friday. But suddenly and abruptly (read: once Miller got wind that the movie was a gay love story), the theater pulled the movie from its schedule, without so much as an explanation.

However, neo-conservative pundit Gayle Ruzicka thinks she knows why. "I just think (pulling the show) tells the young people especially that maybe there is something wrong with this show," she said.


It's true -- Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal have been in a combined eight films this year, and in only one of them did they portray gay cowboys. So I understand how "Brokeback" might come as a little bit of culture shock.

Regardless, it's cheap, unethical, motivated by fear, ignorance and, oh yeah, it borders on bigotry.

I understand that plenty of people might not agree with homosexuality, and that's their prerogative. But refusing to allow adults to choose to see, or not see, one of the best movies of the year is not only offensive in its own right, but a violation of the movie theater's role in society. A theater is a public service. It exists because people pay money to see movies they want to see. A movie theater is not a political forum, or a lobbyist, or a censorship haven. And in this case, pulling "Brokeback Mountain" just gives the state of Utah a bad name.

Religious beliefs are religious beliefs, but the truth of the matter is that a good chunk of Mormons in this community are tolerant of homosexuality and have no problem with the thought of a cinematic homosexual romance, especially when their kids won't be able to get in without a parent anyway.

Guess what? Aaron Allen and I, the two chief film critics for The Chronicle, are both Mormon, and both of us loved "Brokeback Mountain."

There are plenty of people who can disagree with something and still be tolerant of it. The cancellation of "Brokeback," however, shows that for too many, that is not the case. It's not enough that you don't want to see the movie-you have to see to it that no one else sees it, either. How noble.

Cal Gunderson, who manages the theater in question, refused to comment. Of course, it only makes sense that, in addition to pulling the movie, they have to be cowardly about it as well.

When it comes down to it, it doesn't really make any sense. Every year, countless movies include, or even endorse, violation of every single one of the Ten Commandments. And yet I can't recall a single one of them in recent years being deliberately pulled from theaters.Larry Miller, or whoever it was that made the final decision, can disagree with anything he wants. But once he starts picking and choosing what films he allows us to see based on his, or anyone else's, political and/or moral beliefs, he's crossed a line. A big one-especially considering the theater had already agreed to show the film.

Gee, that sounds a bit two-faced to me.

I've seen "Brokeback Mountain." Not only is it a very good film, but it's classy and toned-down. The sex is not explicit and the penis never makes an appearance. It is not preachy, nor is it exploitative or pornographic. It's just a movie, and a damn good one at that, no matter where your political or sexual leanings lie. Maybe I'm crazy, but that sounds like a movie people should be allowed to see.


Wednesday 11 January 2006


I would like to discuss some flaws in Chris Bellamy's column ("Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be gay cowboys," Jan. 9).

First, Bellamy, you claim that because Larry Miller owns a movie theater, he has some responsibility to show "Brokeback Mountain."

You speak of "the movie theater's role in society," as if Miller has accepted some set of moral obligations by owning a movie theater.

It is very convenient of you to impose obligations on Miller that serve you at his risk. Miller has chosen to provide a service to the public, namely, showing movies for a fee.

He does this at his own risk; if his business fails, the public does not bear the financial burden. Therefore, he owes us nothing.

You can argue that he pulled "Brokeback Mountain" because he's an ignorant bigot, but they're his theaters. He can pull any movie he wants, for any reason. You would not feel that Miller is obligated to show a film that would lose money. If Larry Miller makes a business decision that showing this film would not be successful, considering the demographics of the Salt Lake Valley theater-going community, then he has every right to pull that film.

Also, consider the opportunity cost for Miller. Every time he chooses to show a film, he is in fact choosing not to show another. He may have felt that the opportunity cost of showing "Brokeback Mountain" was too high.

Now let's consider that "Brokeback Mountain" has been a very profitable film, with a per-theater average of $11,881. Let's look at Miller's motivation in that light.

Why would he choose not to show a film that profitable? The point of being in business is to make money, right?

If that's true, why doesn't Miller run a brothel? Prostitution is certainly a very lucrative business, as is being a drug lord. The obvious answer is that he has a moral objection to such a business. His objections could be based on personal morality or based on the negative effects of such businesses on society as a whole.

Aaron Jorgensen
Graduate Student,
Electrical Engineering


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