The US author said she wishes she had not written the short story after the “hassle and problems and irritation” she received after the film came out in 2005.
“So many people have completely misunderstood the story. I think it’s important to leave spaces in a story for readers to fill in from their own experience, but unfortunately the audience that ‘Brokeback’ reached most strongly have powerful fantasy lives,” Proulx said in an interview with the Paris Review.
“And 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.
“So they rewrite the story, including all kinds of boyfriends and new lovers and so forth after Jack is killed. And it just drives me wild.”
The author said the majority of letters she received complaining about the film’s ending began “I’m not gay, but…” and added that she was frustrated the men did not seem to understand that the story was not about the lead characters Jack and Ennis.
“It’s about homophobia; it’s about a social situation; it’s about a place and a particular mindset and morality. They just don’t get it,” she said.
Proulx said the men writing to her implied that they knew how her characters would behave better than her because of their gender.
“And maybe they do. But that’s not the story I wrote. Those are not their characters. The characters belong to me by law,” she said.
The author said the hype surrounding the story’s ending, which sees lovers Ennis and Jack part ways after an intense summer romance, became worse after the film’s release.
“I wish I’d never written the story. It’s just been the cause of hassle and problems and irritation since the film came out. Before the film it was all right,” she said.