Kathryn Bigelow is a torture apologist, Leni Reifenstahl and according to an article in The Hollywood Reporter, not the one who really directed Zero Dark Thirty and now, the other really great female director, Lynne Ramsay, is “hysterical,” having had a “hissy fit” on the set of the Natalie Portman movie, Jane Got a Gun. Maybe we can figure out a way to verbally stone enough of them to make sure another strong woman never emerges in Hollywood again.
Whatever happened there was morphed into what has become all too commonplace in the way people talk about women. Film.com’s Callum Marsh nails the chorus to the wall with his latest piece, “Lynne Ramsay, and Why We Need to Talk About How We Talk About Female Directors“:
That wide swaths of the (overwhelmingly male) film-nerd public would flock to social media to express grossly misogynistic thoughts after the slightest opportunity presents itself is perhaps not so surprising. But what is surprising—and what’s much more disconcerting, given the circumstances—is how deeply and needlessly gendered the response to this story has been from professional journalists and news organizations. Leaving aside the somewhat unexpected shift in default editorial sympathies from the artist to her producer, the articles reporting this story have continued to lean on language tailored, at least implicitly, for gender-based condescension.
One reason I’m glad a man wrote that is because people like you always take a piece like this written by a woman with a grain of salt. Come on, admit it. You do. Yes, those of you reading this, at least some of you, will tend to dismiss it: “Oh there she goes again.” But when a male writer calls out misogyny people listen. Really listen. So cheers to Callum Marsh.
Pay close attention to the choice of words even in the original Deadline report: “Clearly there was drama the weekend before”. The word “drama”, much like the word “hysterical”, tends to surface only when men are in a position to describe the behaviour of women, and it’s highly unlikely in this case that Deadline would be inferring that “drama” unfolded if, say, Kenneth Lonergan had walked off-set in similar circumstances. This might sound like a minor sticking point, but it’s important: language like this informs the discussion to a remarkable degree, imposing a gendered reading of a situation that simply doesn’t require one. There is literally nothing about this story which implies “drama”—given the situation, it might be reasonable to assume that there exists a conflict between Ramsay and her producer, but “conflict” and “drama” are far from the same word. And the word is significant.
I never started my site, first Oscarwatch and now AwardsDaily to be a site that defends the rights of women and minorities in Hollywood but over the years, the things I’ve seen, have so repulsed me that I have no choice but to try to join the chorus of people who rail against the oppressive status quo, which I must say has not improved in the last fifteen years since I began. In fact, it’s gone backwards. It’s become much much worse. Women in Hollywood now are mostly young girls tarted up, the younger the better. They are sex objects before they are anything else and it is truly horrifying to watch stuff like this go down.
I met Lynne Ramsay in Telluride two years ago and I’ve never met a more charming, humble and intelligent filmmaker. Never. There was no ego involved in talking to her. We shared stories of having to get dressed up to go to these events and how we both hated that part of it. We talked about our kids, and why raising them trumps just about everything else in our lives. We talked about art, about film directing, about Hollywood. She strikes me as the type of filmmaker who would be willing to walk away from a film if that film isn’t the film she wants to make. She doesn’t have to get on her knees and bring off anyone in Hollywood. Trust me, she doesn’t care about fame or power. She’s an artist who makes the films she wants to make and the rest of the time lives far, far away from Hollywood.
Whether this silly chatter has effected her or not career-wise is a different conversation. Big picture: who gives a fuck? Ruining things for women directors? Blow me. I trust her that she knows what she’s doing. Full stop. So the whispers and moans of people who have nothing better to do than to hate on some of the industry’s most promising female writer/directors will do nothing but fortify the base and that is to coddle and mythologize male filmmakers. So, fine. But let’s not try to pretend it’s anything else.