Queer fans are outraged over Sam Elliott’s recent comments regarding The Power of the Dog.
During an interview on Marc Maron’s podcast WTF, actor Sam Elliott shared his disapproval for The Power of the Dog. The Oscar-nominated western stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Kodi Smit-McPhee. Despite the initial outrage, it seems his issue may not be related to the film’s queer themes.
While he briefly references the “allusions of homosexuality” through the film, Elliott is unrelenting in his critique of filmmaker Jane Campion. He calls The Power of the Dog an “evisceration” of the American West.
You may be asking yourself, what is the difference between allusion and illusion? Allusion refers to the act of making an implied or indirect reference to something — in this case, homosexuality.
So maybe Elliott’s disapproval doesn’t stem from the film’s incorporation of queer characters; perhaps he is commenting on Campion’s coded inclusion of a gay storyline.
What Is the film about?
The Power of the Dog follows an unexpected romance between rancher Phil Burbank (Cumberbatch) and a young man named Peter Gordon (Smit-McPhee).
Set in Montana during the 1920s, the film offers commentary and critique surrounding the era’s stringent expectations of sexuality and masculinity, especially for those living on the great plains.
Although many are praising Campion for writing, directing, and producing a film worthy of twelve Oscar nominations, Elliott took further issue with her inauthentic portrayal of cowboys on the western frontier. He says, “All these [explicit] cowboys in this movie looked like [chippendale dancers]. They’re running around in chaps and no shirts. I mean, Cumberbatch never got out of his fucking chaps.”
Elliott goes on to provide additional grievances with Cumberbatch’s character, “Every [explicit] time he would walk in from somewhere — he never was on a horse, maybe once. He’d walk into the fucking house, storm up the [explicit] stairs, go lay in his bed, in his chaps and play his banjo. It’s like, what the [explicit]? Where’s the Western in this Western?”
But who made Elliott the authority on what a Western is or should be? Hollywood, evidently. Elliott has been typecast as a rough and tumble cowboy or western outlaw for more than five decades — best known for his roles in films like The Quick and the Dead, Tombstone, and most recently, the Western drama 1883 on Paramount+.
Well, Mr. Elliott, you know what they say. If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. Although, I am not sure the world is ready for you to star in Brokeback Mountain 2.
Where Can I Watch The Power of the Dog?
The Power of the Dog is currently streaming exclusively on Netflix. To see why it’s the most-nominated film of the year, watch it before the Academy Awards on Sunday, March 27.