Benedict Cumberbatch Plays Gay for Pay In “The Power of the Dog” on Netflix
First, I’m referring to the character Cumberbatch plays as gay because there was no other name for us during the time period in which this film is set. Second, Netflix really dropped the ball with this one because they don’t even mention gay content in the movie description. I almost passed on it. They basically say that it’s a movie about a woman who marries a man and the man’s brother torments the woman and her son. And that’s not the case at all. While I wouldn’t call this an authentic gay film, there are strong gay references and I can’t understand why they wouldn’t mention this upfront. What are they hiding? Do they want straight people to be surprised?
I’m not going to give out any spoilers with the film, partly because there really aren’t that many surprises and partly because the gay theme in this film is treated in such a peculiar way. The people who did this film clearly did NOT do their research. If they had, they would have known that being a gay cowboy wasn’t all that unusual years ago. It hasn’t been mentioned in history because they wanted to cover it up to preserve the concept of the rough and rugged cowboy.
“To tamper with the image of a folk hero, a historic formula, a legend, and most of all, that of the American cowboy heritage is probably more dangerous than the proverbial where ‘fools rush in,’” Westermeier writes. He notes the traditional cowboy had four failings: drinking, gambling, lechery and violence. “Of these … lechery is often alluded to but is the least detailed activity of his frenetic pleasures.”
Here’s more. The rest of the article talks more about gay cowboys in the old west. It’s a fascinating article.
Unfortunately, the movie, “The Power of the Dog,” falls short in many ways, but mostly it doesn’t depict gay men as gay men would behave and react. They show Cumberbatch as the tortured gay cowboy who falls in love with his brother’s new wife’s much younger son. The much younger son is gay, too. But he’s just a kid and there’s no sex. And that’s fine. I don’t want to see barely legal gay characters having sex with older men. But there’s little affection shown at all, except for one scene where Cumberbatch grabs the back of the kid’s neck.
The movie is also slow. Painfully slow, and the title is so symbolic it’s almost high school. You’ll want to fast forward many parts. But I do recommend watching it simply to see how they treat the gay content and to see how Cumberbatch plays gay for pay. They seem to have covered this up, too, along with gay cowboy history. I didn’t even see it mentioned on social media anywhere.