Larry Miller can do what he wants


I would like to discuss some flaws in Chris Bellamy’s column (“Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be gay cowboys,” Jan. 9).

First, Bellamy, you claim that because Larry Miller owns a movie theater, he has some responsibility to show “Brokeback Mountain.”

You speak of “the movie theater’s role in society,” as if Miller has accepted some set of moral obligations by owning a movie theater.

It is very convenient of you to impose obligations on Miller that serve you at his risk. Miller has chosen to provide a service to the public, namely, showing movies for a fee.

He does this at his own risk; if his business fails, the public does not bear the financial burden. Therefore, he owes us nothing.

You can argue that he pulled “Brokeback Mountain” because he’s an ignorant bigot, but they’re his theaters. He can pull any movie he wants, for any reason. You would not feel that Miller is obligated to show a film that would lose money. If Larry Miller makes a business decision that showing this film would not be successful, considering the demographics of the Salt Lake Valley theater-going community, then he has every right to pull that film.

Also, consider the opportunity cost for Miller. Every time he chooses to show a film, he is in fact choosing not to show another. He may have felt that the opportunity cost of showing “Brokeback Mountain” was too high.

Now let’s consider that “Brokeback Mountain” has been a very profitable film, with a per-theater average of $11,881. Let’s look at Miller’s motivation in that light.

Why would he choose not to show a film that profitable? The point of being in business is to make money, right?

If that’s true, why doesn’t Miller run a brothel? Prostitution is certainly a very lucrative business, as is being a drug lord. The obvious answer is that he has a moral objection to such a business. His objections could be based on personal morality or based on the negative effects of such businesses on society as a whole.

Aaron Jorgensen

Graduate Student,

Electrical Engineering