I’m one of those folks who thought Adele was perhaps the most overrated singer around. I absolutely could not understand why she had such a large fanbase, and I was mystified when she won a slew of Grammys for 21 three years ago.
It wasn’t until I heard her recent single “Hello” that I understood why Adele is so popular. The song is the real deal: emotionally sweeping, skillfully written, flawlessly performed. The song was so hypnotizing that I literally had to force myself to stop watching the video after watching it ten consecutive times. I consider it one of the greatest songs ever written, and I feel embarrassed that I previously scorned this singer.
It’s a sign of profound social progress that the video’s depiction of an interracial relationship has generated so little controversy; remember when people hyperventilated over Madonna having a black love interest in 1989’s “Like a Prayer” video? A generation from now, people will wonder why it was considered controversial to have interracial relationships depicted in popular culture.
They will wonder the same thing about same-sex relationships in popular culture. December 9 will mark the tenth anniversary of the release of Brokeback Mountain, Ang Lee’s Oscar-winning romantic drama starring Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger. Remember the great wingnut freakout over that film–a ideological meltdown that allegedly extended into the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences itself? Remember how your right-wing friends and neighbors went on and on about how Hollywood was supposedly glorifying sodomy and deviancy?
The right-wing reaction to Brokeback Mountain was, much like the notorious 2008 McCain-Palin rallies, an early sign of the path that took us to Donald Trump. Conservatives threw a fit over gay cowboys for the same reason they threw a fit over black presidents; they are locked in a 1950s-era vision of the world, and cannot tolerate anything that deviates from that vision. Attacking change is their way of “making America great again.”
The folks who attacked Brokeback Mountain ten years ago still have no shame or regret. They still see Hollywood as the new Gomorrah, perverting young minds with such radical concepts as the notion that gay men and women are people too. They still regard multiculturalism and diversity as sick, dark, radical. They still don’t understand why the rest of us have moved on and have grown up.
We should never forget the hateful voices that attacked Lee, Ledger, Gyllenhaal and Universal Pictures for making Brokeback Mountain. We should also never forget that those hateful voices have lost their fight against progress, against modernity, against reality. We win. They lose.