Yes, The Winner For Best Director Has A Vajayjay. Can We Please Move On?

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).

I groaned.

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)

27 Comments

Filed under Observations

27 responses to “Yes, The Winner For Best Director Has A Vajayjay. Can We Please Move On?

  1. suzicate

    I did not know she was James Cameron’s wife. WOMAN can do anything after all the word is wo (the wow factor) plus man!!!!! Hard to have equality when attention is constantly drawn to gender and race. ALL people are worthy and capable.

  2. angelcel

    I know just what you’re saying about labels and it annoys me intensely too that we get so fixated on such things. However, in this instance I can’t agree with you. The absense of women from top jobs really is a total disgrace, as is the lack of recognition of women right across the spectrum from the arts through to science. Here in the UK for instance there are more female graduates than males and yet only 10% of directors of the top 100 companies are female, 25 of the top 100 firms having no women board members at all. The film industry is equally very male dominated. I read the other day that in the last 25 years the number of women directors has remained virtually static, at (coincidentally) under 10%.

    Now I’d be the first to say that positive discrimination is *not* the way to go and that jobs, recognition and awards should only go where they are warranted and to the most talented. However, Kathryn Bigelow is a talented director and has produced, by all accounts, a fine piece of work. I can’t help but get excited therefore that at long last a woman is standing on that podium. I hope that her win will encourage more women to go into the same industry and maybe that will help to redress the horribly skewed male/female balance.

  3. I think it needed to be acknowledged, but how it happened irked me a little (thanks Babs…)

    But I can’t agree more with you – it should be a non issue at this point.

  4. God, was Streisand overly dramatic or what? Ick.

    Loved the Hurt Locker and, like you, I didn’t know until after I saw it and loved it that it was directed by a woman.

    And it’s always a good day when that asshat Cameron loses.

  5. It SHOULD be a non-issue, but we’re not there yet. By far.
    I think sometimes we have to swing a little too far in the opposite direction before we can settle comfortably in the middle.
    Maybe if they were saying “it’s only the 3rd time a woman has ever…”
    But hey, it’s the first. I’m willing to celebrate.

    • I’m with Maureen @ Island Roar: I’m okay with the hullabaloo for Kathryn Bigelow (just wish it hadn’t been Barbra Streisand – was I the only one who felt like she was making it about her rather than the nominees?) and I couldn’t really explain why until I read this comment. But I agree: I think it’s okay to draw attention to both the achievement itself and the fact that it was a historical first.

      • This issue is raging on my Yahoo group for women in Hollywood as well. Of course the Helen Reddy song “I am Woman Hear me Roar” as her ‘walk off’ song really irked some people. But it cracked me up! I thought it was meant to be tongue in cheek and it worked for me.

        However, I do still think its important to acknowledge this win. If you look at pure data, equality has not been achieved. The gender gap in pay is grotesque, and similar for race. Women are not yet equally considered for jobs, awards, etc…. So, a woman winning will create inroads for other women. It makes the idea of signing female directors less risky for film companies. It is a win not just in name, but in real progress. I am also very pleased the film was not a traditional “women’s film”. Not a Nancy Meyers film or something (which I LOVE!). But instead her win is proof (for those that need it) that women can write and direct winning films on any subject.

        This isn’t widely accepted yet, which to me, is why its a big deal.

        BTW Jane, I don’t think your opinion on this matter makes you any less of a feminist or anything like that. I think its a strong and wise woman who can write about this thoughtfully and be open to comments and ideas all around. THANKS!

  6. We all would want to live in a genderless & colorless world, not affected by any stereotypes or any preconceived notions. However, it is not here yet. If we are lucky enough to be surrounded by open-minded people, do let’s count our blessings. I know there are people out there not as enlightened. The fact that many of us were surprised by Hurt Locker being directed by a woman is actually kind of telling, no? In addition, I believe that most people didn’t even realize this was the first time a woman won the Best Director. We just kind “assumed” that it has happened before and so we didn’t give it any thought.

    Knowing this now, I am excited that for the first time a female has won the Best Director award esp. since she won fair and square. There is no cause for suspecting her winning being a “political (-ly correct)” move. Even more poignant: for a movie that most just “assumed” without realizing they were making an assumption was directed by a woman. Despite my excitement, however, I will not assume that gender equality is a norm in the larger society. Sometimes subtle discriminations are the hardest to fight. And we take it one step at a time.

    I too am also excited that she beat Cameron. Take that, man with his 5th wife! I will also confess that I am too much a wimp: I don’t think I’m strong enough to watch Hurt Locker.

    p.s. You said Vajayjay! LOL. 😉

  7. I expect nothing less from Barbara Streisand. Did you notice what song played when the winner was announced? It was “I Am Woman.” Completely kitschy. I found it more interesting that two ex’s were vying for the same title. I guess there’s a first time for everything and this paves the way for more. Someday gender and race will be a non-issue. But not today.

    I have not seen the movie so I can’t comment on its worthiness. We’re just listening to Army Guy’s stories and playing the images in our heads.

  8. I totally agree that we should be beyond the labels by now. But at the same time we all need to be recognized as individuals. Bigelow should be acknowledged for her talents not for her womanly parts, skin color, hair color, faith, or choice in husbands.

    I have yet to see The Hurt Locker of Avatar. I’ve heard great things about both. Unfortunately, it’s difficult for me to sit through a realistic military film without sobbing. That may have to wait for DVD. But the Pocahontas remix makes me want to see Avatar. That was very interesting.

  9. I agree… wonderful that it was a FIRST but that wasn’t the reason she won nor should it be the highlight of the win.

  10. unabridgedgirl

    I was in the middle of drinking water when I read your title. The water is now down the front of me. Thanks, Jane. I heart you.

  11. When Congress is no longer a sea of white male faces, maybe we can feel the battle for equality is no longer an issue.

    Since I haven’t yet seen The Hurt Locker, I must confess that I rooted for KB because of her gender. One for the girls. I never had a thought that she won because of that.

    However nice Ms. Bigelow’s win, the vajayjay victory which really matters is Judge Sonia Sotomeyer’s appointment to the Supreme Court.

  12. I felt the same way after the presidential election. I believe Obama was elected on his merits, not his race. But after a while I just wanted the race conversation to end. It is historic when someone breaks barriers like these. But it’s such a fine line to walk – acknowledging the “first” without detracting from the accomplishment due to demographic labels.

  13. I think its kick ass that a woman made it. Finally!!!

  14. I couldn’t agree more. It drives me nuts when people lose sight of what really should be celebrated or is of value.

  15. I LOVE the discussion that this post has created. And I really appreciate the variety of opinions expressed here. I just want to add (and reiterate) that I AM excited that a woman has finally won. I just wish the media coverage and interviews wouldn’t focus on that fact. Women everywhere should be jumping up and down with excitement – but let’s keep the excitement to ourselves and focus publicly on the merits of why Bigelow won.

  16. I didn’t even know she won until I read your post. I missed the Oscars, though I love movies. I just haven’t gotten to see many in the past year. I have to say that I do think it’s a big deal that she won. I understand what you mean that people should win on their merits, etc., but how many female directors can you name? Now, how many male directors can you name? (Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorcese, James Cameron, etc. etc.) The power in Hollywood is still dominated by men, so I do think that it’s great for a woman director to win. (Though I hope people won’t ignore her talent because of it.)

  17. I didn’t know the movie was directed by a woman until, irony of ironies, I read it in a magazine. This same magazine also pointed out (read: played up) that she was up against her ex. What gets me is, the media feels like they have to make a big deal out of it because that’s where “the story” is, that’s where the money is. Ugh.

    And poor Babs, she was probably just reading the teleprompter in her melodramatic Yentl-y Babs way and is taking the blame for someone else’s bad writing. At least I hope!

  18. I totally agree. But labels are such a weird tricky thing. As much as I reject them, I also cling to them to help define me to the outside world (coincidentally, I wrote about just this today over at my blog).

  19. I am so torn on this one. I think you are right – that we should celebrate talent and move beyond labels. But the fact that she is a woman is relevant and should be noted. How do we celebrate these milestones – because that is what they are – without losing track of the fact that this is a *person* who has a creative gift and deserves every ounce of her accolade because of what she has done not because of her anatomy? I don’t pretend to know, but thank you for imploring all of us to think about these important questions.

  20. I think we do a disservice when we focus on “the milestone” right away. Like everyone being excited that a female director and an African-American were in the running for best picture (or as someone mentioned, the president’s race.) There will always be people wonfering if Kathryn Bigelow won it because she’s a great director or if she was a woman. I still remember the last time I watched the Academy Awards was when Denzel Washington was up for best actor and made a huge issue about how he hadn’t won yet because he was black and then he got the award for Training Day, which I thought was not only a sub-par film and definently not his best work. So yeah, this whole big deal about Kathryn Bigelow being a woman irks me.

    Not that I was rooting for it, but I’ll come to Avatar’s defense. In writing class, we were taught there are only a handful of original stories out there and we are all trying to remake them into our image. So yeah, Stranger in a Strangeland is not unique. Nor is the reluctant hero bit either.

  21. Yes, yes, and yes. My husband and I talk about this frequently. I am saddened that we must categorize people.

    I have wanted to talk about this for years but never had the right words to say. But you my friend do. Bravo!

  22. Nicki

    Labels! I hate labels!

    Glad Bigelow won but have not yet seen her movie. I generally run in the other direction over war movies but have promised myself to put this aside and see this one.

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