Saturday, March 20, 2010

Bitch Fit 03/20/10: Katheryn Bigelow Won the Oscar for Best Director: What Happens Next?

On March 7 2010, millions of people tuned in to watch the Oscars to see history in the making. Katheryn Bigelow became the first woman to win the Academy Award for Best Director. This moment was the most important in not only in her career, but it was also an important moment for women everywhere who are filmmakers and who are aspiring to be filmmakers. I am going to be honest and say that I did cry when she won, because her win meant so much to me not only as a filmmaker, but as a woman who is trying to get into the industry one way or another. Her win was important for America to see because not too many female filmmakers are recognized in this category (there are only 4 women that have been nominated and Katheryn is the first woman to win an Oscar for this category. The others include Linda Wertmuller, Jane Campion and Sofia Coppola).
My point is that while Bigelow's win was significant, it will not change the patriarchal ideology that is the Hollywood system overnight. It will take more women winning the Oscar for Best Director, Best Picture and all other technical aspects of the film industry before this could ever happen. It's not just this, but there should be more recognition and praise for women who direct films that are of good quality. The sad thing is that I can only name a few famous female directors on less than 10 of my fingers (Mary Harron, Katheryn Bigelow, Sofia Coppola, Penny Marshall, Agnes Varda, Dorothy Arzner, Penelope Spheeris, Julie Taymor, Tamara Davis). If we were to ask the public how many male directors they can name, the number would be much higher.
Another issue with the system itself is how women are portrayed in a vast majority of Hollywood films. The women in these films are treated as stock and token characters, they are not treated as human beings first, then women second. These stock characters are the byproduct of mostly male screenwriters and directors themselves. A lot of these stock characteristics include, sassy girlfriend, needy girlfriend, femme fatale, the manipulative mother, sister, girlfriend etc., object of sexual desire, uber masculine ass kicker, and hot lesbian couple just to name a few. These stock representations do not reflect the diverse spectrum of the female sex and are very harmful to the public because it reinforces certain beliefs and ideas that men, women and children internalize about the female sex.
I will give praise to two male directors in particular who see women as human beings first as opposed to seeing them as sexual objects of desire. My first praise will go to James Cameron (Bigelow's ex-husband) for creating such powerful women like Ripley from Aliens and Sarah Connor from the Terminator series and even in Avatar and Titanic he had very strong female characters as well. Cameron saw these women as human beings who were put in an extraordinary situation ans they happened to be, for the most part, extraordinary regular women. Another director that I will praise is Quentin Tarantino, especially for his last three films, Jackie Borwn, the Kill Bill films and Inglorious Basterds. Tarantino had very intelligent, strong and powerful women who were also extremely independent and who were extraordinary regular women.
The saddest thing about my previous paragraph is that I acknowledged two male directors who managed to represent women in a realistic way and in a way that they are human beings and equal to or better than men. Granted The Hurt Locker had a male lead but Coppola's Lost In Translation had Scarlett Johansen's character portrayed as a woman who emotionally dependent on an older man in order to be happy in Tokyo. Lost In Translation is a wonderful film, but the character portrayal of Charlotte is somewhat disturbing, but then again, that might have been the point that Coppola was trying to convey, but she then does this again with Marie Antoinette(do not even get me started on this film) , with a character portrayal of Marie who let herself be sexually exploited and used by her peers(granted at that time period women did not have much of a voice, especially in the French Monarchy).
The whole crux of this fit is that in order for the Hollywood Patriarchy to be overthrown in order to be a system and business of equality for all sexes (and intersexed people as well), there needs to be more recognition of female filmmakers and more accurate and realistic portrayals of women on screen. Of course this is very idealistic of me and this decision is really up to the public who pays to see these films. The consumers still have some power as to what films they will support and see. I would like to address an S.O.S to the movie goers of the world and my message for them to be to support more quality films that are directed by women (do not support a film that was directed by a woman if it is a piece of shit) and support more films with realistic portrayals of women. People of Earth, you have the power to change the Hollywood system.

No comments:

Post a Comment