The veteran Today show critic has been taken to task by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation over his negative review of the gay cowboy western, in which he referred to Jake Gyllenhaal's character, Jack, as a "sexual predator" who "tracks Ennis down and coaxes him into sporadic trysts."
The group claimed that Shalit's statements, delivered during his "Critic's Choice" segment on Thursday's Today show, promoted "defamatory anti-gay prejudice to a national audience," and criticized NBC News for providing the eccentric critic with a platform from which to air his views.
I'd love to hear from Goldstein on this, if he isn't dead yet, but it seems to me that the academic left, particularly the queer theory left, has spent years living off radically deconstructing literary and/or historical relationships. You know, Tom and Huck are gay, or Tom and Jim are, or Jesus and Judas are and Judas betrays him for making eyes at young Mark, or Holden Caufield is a repressed homo, or Abe Lincoln was with his bed-buddy Josh Speed, or Cap'n Ahab is driven to obsession with the whale because his society won't let him have some sweet, sweet man-love. That sort of thing. (The broader gay community [like GLAAD] loved it, too, mainly since it was "transgressive" but mostly because it made straight people, especially straight religious people, uncomfortable, I think.)
Well, look at 'em now, shoouting "no fair" at Gene Shalit.
At least one person in my family has been sick since Thanksgiving, and we've had a non-stop parade of in laws coming through for the holidays, so no, I haven't seen the movie yet. But I have a hunch that Shalit's take is not wildly off the mark. No matter what, it's a work of art, and once out of the auteur's hand, it is open to any and all interpretation that can be supported by direct reference to the text. Hope Shalit says something like that instead of the usual chickenshit fold in the face of a designated victim group.