Monday, March 8, 2010

Bigelow vs. Cameron!

This Kathryn Bigelow vs. James Cameron thing (and it's that, not The Hurt Locker vs. Avatar) is a good example of why the media can be so hateable sometimes.

The New York Times puts it, "In a sense, the awards season had shaped up into a showdown between James Cameron, who directed “Avatar,” and Ms. Bigelow, who was previously married to Mr. Cameron." Yes, in a stupid, reductive sense, that's true. In a more useful, interesting sense, this awards season has been about a crop  of very good movies that seems to lack any truly great ones, with a lot of heavy favorites in the acting awards. There's a myriad of interesting plot lines. The Bigelow-Cameron one is just the one with the most obvious narrative. That's a consistent problem for our media, pursuing the good story over the more accurate and deeper one. We're a storytelling species.

That isn't to say that the story of Avatar and The Hurt Locker isn't interesting, but it's interesting in far more ways than "ex-husband and ex-wife fight!" And I can't help but feel that, by obsessing over the dynamic of her beating her ex-husband, the media is diminishing Bigelow's achievement. It's a subtle thing, because it's caught up in an overall feminist story, but by making her victory all about her ex-husband, it's marginalizing the larger point, that Bigelow directed a strong, entertaining movie, and did a damn good job of it too. Personally, I'm just already annoyed at having to hear about this one lame storyline so much.


Matt Frost said...

There's a good story to be told about how both of them are trying to sympathetically present martial culture from different angles. But no.

Anonymous said...

Ah, reductio ad divorceum.

Phil P

Mark said...

Well, even the Bigelow-Cameron showdown aspect of the story was a bit inaccurate. Obviously, the two movies were competing, but the personal battle between Bigelow and Cameron really only existed in the media. This is Cameron in an interview:

"I couldn't be happier to see her get a nomination, because it's a recognition that's long overdue. I've known that she's a genius filmmaker for a long time, and she's always flirted with this sort of critical success. This film is such a slam dunk. 'Hurt Locker' is such a great film."

Also of note, the orchestra playing "I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar" when she won... a bit overkill, if you ask me.