I am typing on a Compaq computer (make that dinosaur) wearing a white Target t-shirt, Lands End cardigan sweater and Talbots jeans. (That sentence reminds me of my single chat room days. A/S/L? … Ahhhh, memories.) My boys love Skechers (especially if they light up) and my daughter collects high-end purses to rival Imelda Marcos. My husband says he doesn’t like to be a billboard for a clothing company and pretty much refuses to wear anything that has a signature. But he has been known to advertise Nautica. We prefer Haagen-Dazs over store brand ice cream. What can I say? We label.
Where would we be without labels? Love them or hate them, they permeate every aspect of our lives. From what we wear to what we eat to how we describe other people. But that’s where I’d love to see us draw the line. I’m tired of labeling people.
I understand that in some cases labels are necessary. College Graduate. Medical Doctor. Kindergartener. Accomplished Chef.
But why oh why – in 2010 – are we still hung up on Woman or Black?
At the 82nd Annual Academy Awards, Barbra Streisand walked onstage to present Best Director. And she began to speak. She pointed out that the Best Director Award had never been awarded to a woman or a person of color (those aren’t her exact words but that, my friends, is a topic for another post).
Please, please, please don’t make this about gender or skin color, I prayed.
Please, just tell us who won.
Just talk about the great talent represented by the nominees. Because if a white guy wins, minority groups will be crying foul. And if a woman or a person of color wins it will completely take away from the fact that they are a talented filmmaker.
She opened the envelope. A hush fell over the crowd. And with a melodramatic tilt of the head Barbra said, “The time has come.”
Kathryn Bigelow won for Best Director of “The Hurt Locker.”
Of the ten movies nominated, “The Hurt Locker” was the one I was rooting for. I had no idea that a woman had directed it when I saw it and I didn’t care. I felt it was an Oscar worthy film. And the fact that I’m not that fond of James Cameron didn’t hurt either. Oh, I agree. He’s a passionate, talented filmmaker. But his over-the-top, ego inflated interviews have always turned me off. Plus, the little tidbit at the end of this post knocked him down quite a few pegs – especially in terms of his “brilliance” with his film ”Avatar.” (And completely unrelated but kind of interesting. Kathryn Bigelow is James Cameron’s ex-wife)
Yes. A woman has finally won the award for Best Director. Yipee.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m GLAD a woman has finally won for Best Director (and I do mean finally, because seriously. It’s taken this long?) But can we just move on? Can we forget that she has a vagina and focus instead on her talented, amazing, intuitive genius? Can we celebrate the honest and moving portrayal she was able to convey on-screen? Look past the hair, make-up and stunning dress. I know you can do it.
When we focus on gender or skin color we diminish someone’s God-given talents and abilities. We deny them the opportunity to own their accomplishment. We stir up that nagging little voice inside them that says, “Did they just pick me because I’m a woman (or black)? Because it was time for a woman (or black) to win this award?” And we feed the detractors who say, “They just gave it to her because she’s a woman! (or whatever)”
By the year 2042, whites will no longer be the majority in America. Isn’t it time to dump the labels? Can we all just be people instead? I used to work at a place that favored men when it came to salaries. We used to laugh in the teacher’s lounge and tease “remember to bring your penis!” when a fellow female co-worker was on her way to her yearly review. My boss once said to me, “But men have to support families. Yours is just supplemental income.” (This was years and years ago and he was old, so put down your tomatoes. I’ve forgiven him.)
But this is 2010.
Kathryn Bigelow is a talented, deserving director. Who just happens to have a vagina.
Let’s move on. Shall we?
(The following is audio from Avatar and actual film clips from Disney’s Pocahontas)