Annie Proulx, the author who wrote the short story that was later adapted into the film Brokeback Mountain has come forward saying she wishes she’d “never written the story” because fans keep trying to change the story and give the characters a happy ending.
Proulx told The Paris Review that she regularly receives mail and contacts about her story that hope to see a happy ending for Jack and Ennis, or at least for Ennis after Jack is murdered. Many readers rewrite the ending to include “all kinds of boyfriends and new lovers and so forth after Jack is killed”.
This drives Proulx wild. “I wish I’d never written the story,” she said. “Before the film it was all right,” but now, many fans “can’t understand that the story isn’t about Jack and Ennis.”
So what is Brokeback Mountain about? “It’s about homophobia; it’s about a social situation; it’s about a place and a particular mindset and morality,” Proulx said. And that particular mindset doesn’t allow for happy gay people.
The author is not a fan of fan fictions either. She says that if readers want happy gay characters, they should just invent their own. “That’s not the story I wrote. Those are not [your] characters. The characters belong to me by law.” Despite what the Supreme Court says, Jack and Ennis still can’t legally marry because they are owned by Proulx!
Proulx, who is straight and wote "Brokeback Mountain" for The New Yorker in 1997 which won the O. Henry Prize, says that most of the letters wanting a happy ending come from men, many of whom open their letters by saying "I'm not gay, but..." which honestly sounds like something Ennis would say.
"One of the reasons we keep the gates locked here is that a lot of men have decided that the story should have had a happy ending. They can’t bear the way it ends – they just can’t stand it," she said.
She also brought up that she had written the libretto for a 2014 opera version of the story to keep the story from being “ruined” by a happy ending.
“I figured one of these idiots who loves happy endings would come along and start messing with it. I want to keep the story as it is… It’s a strong story and it shouldn’t be mangled into everybody lives happily ever after.” Because of course, there’s nothing worse than happy gays.