How the West Was Won Over

It's a love story (sigh) between men (yikes!) and a western (yawn). So why is everybody talking about Brokeback Mountain?

In certain events that leave their mark on pop culture, there comes a flashpoint when everyone's talking about the same thing. Call it the Bennifer blitz, the Monica moment, the Janet Jackson distraction. Ground down and fed up by news that matters, Americans lock their vision on a movie-star romance, a sex scandal, a Super Bowl oops as tabloid headlines and talk-show hosts exploit and orchestrate the public's evanescent fervor.

In a more benign and constructive way, America is now experiencing the Brokeback breakthrough.

Brokeback Mountain, a western about two cowboys, Ennis (Heath Ledger) and Jack (Jake Gyllenhaal), and the convulsive,...

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