Let's get one thing straight (pun intended) right here at the start-I have not seen the movie "Brokeback Mountain," and I don't think I want to, either.

It's not that I have any problem with gay cowboys. If a couple of ranchers want to fondle each other's Winchesters, or even get married, I couldn't care less. But that doesn't mean that I want to watch that particular scenario unfold, either.

They say it is a deeply moving love story that just happens to be about two men discovering their love for each other. Maybe, just maybe, it isn't the gay theme that is causing my interest level to drop, but the whole "love story" aspect. To be honest, your good old-fashioned traditional love story holds little for me either. Does the phrase "chick flick" ring a bell?

Really, "Brokeback Mountain" is just a chick flick that might hold a little more appeal for non-traditional males. The chicks will still go bonkers for it because they get to ogle Jake Gylenhaal and Heath Ledger for an hour and a half. But I think even the most liberal of heterosexual men will, if honest with themselves, admit that watching two guys fall in love and kiss holds about as much appeal as root canal without anesthesia.

At least with your traditional chick flick, like say, "Pride and Prejudice," a guy at least will have Keira Knightly for eye candy, and pick up husband points for suffering through it. An astute guy would recognize the tears as opportunity to gain additional husband points by consoling her while simultaneously seizing control of the remote to flip to ESPN and a discussion of teams on the bubble.

I guess by that measure, though, "Brokeback" might have something to offer the straight guy. Yes, you might have to cringe through two guys kissing, but there is a scene where Anne Hathaway is topless. It's a tricky balancing act-two guys kissing, or a nude scene with a beautiful woman best known for decidedly less naked roles in Disney movies.

"Brokeback Mountain" was considered to be a top contender for best picture at the Oscars, and had three nominations for acting categories. Ledger was nominated for best actor, Gyllenhaal for supporting actor, and Michelle Williams, who kept her clothes on as Ledger's wife, was nominated for supporting actress. Hathaway must have been slighted for her willingness to give straight guys something to watch.

I guess the Academy wasn't quite ready to let gays go all the way, as "Crash" (the best movie I saw all year) won Best Picture, and none of the "Brokeback" actors won, though Phillip Seymour Hoffman did win for his portrayal of gay writer Truman Capote. Hoffman, however, did not have an onscreen kiss with another guy.

"Brokeback" did win "Best Screenplay," which might be further evidence that the voters have an affinity for gay writers, though I don't think either screenwriter is actually gay. Nor is "Best Director" winner Ang Lee, a Chinese born man with a wife and two kids chosen to lead a film about gay cowboys in the American West. Go figure.

Lee came to prominence with the film, "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." Was this just the next logical progression-"Crouching Cowboy, Hidden Ledger?"

Bill Rudick never much enjoyed westerns either, so a western about gay men holds pretty much no appeal, even with Hathaway. Rudick's e-mail is brudick@epix.net

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