Acadamy Award Spoilers will follow
I was not going to watch the Oscars(TM) this year because I didn’t care that much. I was pretty sure the people I wanted to win wouldn’t and I didn’t need the frustration.
But then I realised two things: This year I had both Twitter and the opportunity to watch in HD. So my curiousity to see the stars, warts and all, drew me in. My ability to watch the show with 100 of the waggiest wags I’ve ever found kept me captivated. It’s a dream come true to watch the smuggest three hours of television with Sarcastro, Hollywood Ron, Doug Benson, The Sklar Brothers, Roger Ebert and half the wits behind MST3K.
Their sarcasm and cynicism was tempered by the softer hearts on my follow list who cheered for winners they liked and didn’t have many nasty things to say about those they didn’t.
When Barbra Striesand announced that the Acadamy’s glass ceiling had been broken and that a woman had finally won for Best Director all I could think was that it was cold comfort. She won for directing a gritty war picture, a man’s man type of movie. Up until Hurt Locker, which I won’t see because of my whole avoiding-unneccessary-violence-in-my-life thing, I had seen every thing Kathryn* Bigelow ever directed. [Except as I double check this claim I see she also had something out in 2007 called ‘Mission Zero’ that I haven’t either heard of or seen. So that’s two things. I’m still holding strong at 95%] She makes man movies. So despite the strains of “I Am Woman” floating from the orchestra pit, I didn’t think it was any kind of real victory for women. It seemed to be the same kind of proto-feminist rah-rah that we always get. It’s like how the first woman executives in a company always wear severe suits and have their hair cut boy short or twisted punishingly into a little hair testicle worn at the back of the head. I always wonder to myself how it can be a women’s triumph if we have to hide every bit of our femininity to get there. Call me when a woman wins for directing a movie about midwives or mothers during wartime or the pain of infertility. Or at the very least for directing a film from a script by a woman.
Quite frankly, I felt that the real feminist Oscar victory came half a decade ago when Lord of the Rings; Return of the King won for best picture. Sure, it was directed by a man but the script was what happens when you turn two women loose on a script. For better and for worse that version of Tolkein’s epic was womanised.
Maybe that’s the message I see played in the world again and again that I don’t like. That we all have to be Eowyn to win at the battle. That we have to be undercover, hiding our gender until the very last of the war when we cry “I am no MAN!” and thrust our proto-phallic weapons into the enemy as our hair streams free down our back at last. We don’t get to be us on the battlefield. We can only unmask at the triumph.
*I did feel a true kinship for Bigelow when she first won. I saw “Kathryn” spelled 50 different ways on Twitter last night. As a Katherine who is very particular about the spelling of her name, I couldn’t help but cringe inwardly at every wayward “C” and superfluous “erine” that popped up.