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Manly Kathryn (Bigelow)

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There’s been some chatter in the blogosphere of late regarding Kathryn Bigelow’s Oscar nomination for Best Director (THE HURT LOCKER), some of it pointing toward a sort of remorse that for this ‘first,’ the film content wasn’t more reflectively ‘female.’

Whoa whoa whoa whoa. So all the parenting I witness around Manhattan and hippy-dippy Ohio (current locale) wherein moms/dads slyly push the tractors and robots toward the girls and praise toward the boys when they dare to don a pink tutu … is really all a fiction? We truly want girls to ‘behave like girls’ after all? Tears and love and princesses? Or to carry an obligation to represent on behalf of, you know, our rights??

I’m just not so sure. People are different. Women are different. Don’t you know one like Kathryn? You know, a badass? She’s amazing. And it’s not like she pulled out the ‘manly’ filmmaking for just this project. STRANGE DAYS? NEAR DARK? She’s been consistent – it’s always been blood and muscle and explosions and deceit, genre by genre by genre. And then tears. Just never romantic comedy tears.

For me, it’s not Kathryn, it’s Hollywood … and other funding bodies. Should Spike Lee have more women in his films, and rendered in a more positive light? (Subtext: Spike demeans women.) What about Woody Allen and people of color? (Subtext: Woody is only about Jews.) Should Kathryn have to populate her films with women, or pursue topics poetic? (Subtext: she’s acting like a man.) No, no, no. Then their films would not be distinctly Lee/Allen/Bigelow. They would become political bodies, like a Congress, striving to represent. There should be no shoulds! There is one obligation, however. The obligation for those funding film, to fully embrace the spectrum of humanity on screen, and not be fearful of engaging stories by all kinds of writers with all kinds of interests. There seems to be true fear out there – ‘women markets’ simply won’t know what to do with a this badass movie, ‘men markets’ won’t be able to relate emotionally to that feel-good movie. Better to stick to the stereotypes.

Spike is simply Spike, and he just wants to engage certain themes. So does Woody. So does Kathryn. (For me, her work is about risk – and the human price for pushing it.) If there were already a plethora of women directors across the spectrum, this discussion would simply be unnecessary. (If there were more filmmakers of color accessing theatrical distribution in major markets with major marketing, we’d see more diversity in those stories, as well. Instead, we get PRECIOUS only.) But Kathryn is Kathryn. I’m thankful for her individuality. And that she’s a female nominee!

Here are the trailers for STRANGE DAYS and NEAR DARK, great early work, and a link to a very good indieWIRE article about the whole mess.

–AH