You’ve got a long way to go, baby

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Kathryn Bigelow absolutely deserved her Best Director Academy Award because she’s an awesome director. But before anyone praises the Academy for awarding it to her, there are a few things I need to point out.

How the Academy works

If you’re under the impression the Academy is a carefully selected group of studious filmmakers who carefully pore over every film being considered to make thoughtful choices, let me disabuse you of that notion. The Academy is pretty much anyone with a film career who wants in. Every year, the organizers behind the awards send out “For your consideration” copies of the movies being considered to the agents and business managers of the Academy members. The Academy members rarely take them, instead generously allowing the agency interns and lower-rung employees to keep them. The Academy members most likely never see every movie being considered. Few of them take their voting seriously.

They vote for names, not movies. Since women have rarely acquired the connections in this industry to make themselves into names, women have never seriously been considered. Kathryn Bigelow is not the first woman to earn a Best Director award; she is the first to get enough press to make the Academy think, “…no women? Really? Er, that doesn’t sound liberal. We’d better pick her.” Some glass ceilings do actually get cracked in this manner, so I’m hopeful. But let’s not have anyone arguing that Hollywood is getting better.

Particularly in the light of how women were treated at the recent Academy Awards.

Butt-slappin’ little girlin’ fun times

From CNN:

When Alec Baldwin closed out the Academy Awards on Sunday night by slapping director Kathryn Bigelow squarely on the backside, that pretty much said it all.

It was Ladies’ Night in a Boys’ Town… But did the orchestra need to follow Bigelow’s win of her long-deserved best director prize, for “The Hurt Locker,” by playing the old Helen Reddy song “I Am Woman”?

When Miley Cyrus and Amanda Seyfried arrived on stage to present the Best Original Song award, did they have to be intro-ed with “Thank Heaven For Little Girls”?

Hollywood probably thought the songs were highlighting how woman-friendly they are, and I’m sure Alec Baldwin’s, um, gesture was meant to be ironic. But it all still reminds me of the time I was working for a man who neurotically hated women and chose me to be his token Well-Treated And Respected Woman so when Human Resources came to investigate multiple allegations of gender discrimination and harassment, he could hold up my employee file as an example of just how good he treated gals when they actually deserved it. (Yes, I was the one who started the complaints. I’ve never been very smart about taking advantage of a good thing for me at the expense of others.)

Let’s be excited for Kathryn Bigelow. But don’t think this means Hollywood is opening up to women. They just recognized a cheap, easy Grand Gesture they could make that might help silence the opposition.

Comments

  1. The Other Patrick says

    Yeah, in a way, Bigelow won for being (a) woman. I mean, she was also one of the two I think deserved this oscar, and I really hope things change in Hollywood, even just a little, but with Avatar raking in trillions of dollars and Hurt Locker not, with Sex and the City being sequelized already and Whip it! not really a success, with… ah. I don’t know.

  2. ACW says

    I love how you clearly and concisely organize my thoughts before I can. These are all the things that occurred to me this week, but I hadn’t quite pulled together into something coherent.

  3. Anemone says

    Huh. I joined the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television last November (I’m a non-voting member), and so far it’s nothing like I thought it would be. I joined for the “networking” and possible seminars, but there’s only been one event so far and it wasn’t what I expected, and the seminars are all in Toronto. I’m not really sure who joins and who doesn’t or why. I can see Canadian films for free (woo!), but there aren’t very many (though more than I originally thought). And I’m definitely not old enough, at 45, to see one or two of the ones coming up.

    The rules for Canadian films are strange, and I’m pretty sure I could start an argument over them very easily if I wanted. The voting etc. all sounds so political. It’s like there are rules about what makes a “good” film that has nothing to do with whether anyone actually likes it or not. It reminds me of the “if you’re smart you’d like Shakespeare” vibe I got in high school.

    I’ve decided that Academies are weird. I like the dresses on the red carpet, though. Maybe we could just have that and skip the rest?

  4. sbg says

    This. I didn’t watch the Oscars, save for bits and pieces as I channel-surfed. I saw the last three awards – to Jeff Bridges, Sandra Bullock and Kathryn Bigelow. I don’t doubt that all three are great at their craft, but I wondered with all three of them if they’d won for merit or something else. Less so with Bigelow, but it was still there.

  5. Donna says

    ” But it all still reminds me of the time I was working for a man who neurotically hated women and chose me to be his token Well-Treated And Respected Woman so when Human Resources came to investigate multiple allegations of gender discrimination and harassment, he could hold up my employee file as an example of just how good he treated gals when they actually deserved it.”

    Heh, I was just thinking about how Leelah from Futurama is the token “strong female character” created to point at so they could be as misogynistic as they pleased without complaint.

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