For the most part, the critics agree that Brokeback Mountain is one of the year's most commendable films.
Then there's Gene Shalit's point of view.
The veteran Today show critic has been taken to task by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation over his negative review of the gay cowboy western, in which he referred to Jake Gyllenhaal's character, Jack, as a "sexual predator" who "tracks Ennis down and coaxes him into sporadic trysts."
The group claimed that Shalit's statements, delivered during his "Critic's Choice" segment on Thursday's Today show, promoted "defamatory anti-gay prejudice to a national audience," and criticized NBC News for providing the eccentric critic with a platform from which to air his views.
"Shalit's bizarre characterization of Jack as a 'predator' and Ennis (Heath Ledger) as a victim reflects a fundamental lack of understanding about the central relationship in the film and about gay relationships in general," GLAAD said in a statement. "It seems highly doubtful that Shalit would similarly claim that Titanic's Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) was a 'sexual predator' because he was pursuing a romantic relationship with Rose (Kate Winslet)."
GLAAD demanded an apology from both Shalit and NBC News and urged supporters to contact the network and complain.
In addition to offering his searing analysis of the romantic relationship between the lead characters, Shalit commended Ledger's performance in Brokeback and allowed that the film had a "few dramatic peaks." He concluded that Ang Lee's much-nominated oeuvre was "wildly overpraised, but not by me."
"Shalit has every right as a film critic to criticize Brokeback Mountain," GLAAD retorted. "But his baseless branding of Jack as a 'sexual predator' merely because he is romantically interested in someone of the same sex is defamatory, ignorant and irresponsible."
Yeah, tell me that there isn't an agenda here.