What bugged me most about the awards season is how so many pundits tried to turn James Cameron into the big male bully and Kathryn Bigelow into some helpless female victim of his male oppression. Cameron has been nothing but gracious during the entire Oscar season, and I believed him when he said over and over again that he was rooting for his friend, colleague, and former spouse (I'm guessing he voted for her). But the pundits wouldn't have that, because the battle of the combative exes was a much juicier story and an easier one to sell. So the story had to be that Cameron was the scorned ex-lover who was scheming behind the scenes to deny his more artistically-inclined ex-wife her moment of glory. So the entertainment media played up Kathryn Bigelow as a woman whose time had come vs. Cameron as the ego-centric madman who was trying to steal her just-deserts with his big, scary, expensive, and (worst of all) popular Hollywood movie. As a result, the media at large basically turned the kick-ass director of Point Break and Strange Days into yet another damsel in distress. Thus, it's hard to argue that she was awarded her Oscar last night based on the merits of her work alone, when so many seemed to be merely 'giving' it to her out of their own sense of history, obligation, and wanting to 'get back' at James Cameron for his imagined crimes. She's not the first person to win an Oscar based as much on politics as the work itself, but it's disappointing that the media circus rendered a worthwhile achievement into something approaching a charity case.
Which is an absolute shame because, if it needs to be said, she was absolutely deserving of winning. Not because she's a woman and not because she's a woman who makes stereotypically 'guy' movies, but because The Hurt Locker was a damn good movie and she was the primary reason it worked as well as it did. And, to be honest, I was rooting for her because I've been a fan for years (I even liked K-19: The Widowmaker) and am thrilled that she'll be working more frequently as a result of her 'historic' win. But saying that she should have won purely because she was a woman is every bit as sexist as saying that she should have lost for the same reason. And, because this also needs to be said, the fact that it took 82 years for the Academy to give the Best Director award to a female filmmaker should be cause for shame and embarrassment, rather than self-lionizing accolades.
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