Female Trouble: Why Powerful Women Threaten Hollywood

http://www.awardsdaily.com/blog/female-trouble-why-powerful-women-threaten-hollywood/

bigelow duveray

As soon as it became clear that Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty was a genuine threat in the Best Picture race you could smell the fear.  The powers that be could see the film was far more than just okay; Bigelow was about to blow the boys club out of the water, once again. Her movie had to be taken down a notch or two, but how? Since they could no longer dismiss little missy with a paternalistic pat on her head and a condescending, “good job!” maybe try smearing the film as an alleged breach of national security. And if the trumped up accusations of security breach wouldn’t stick, then it would have to be branded as torture porn. And if the torture porn tag felt too flimsy, then perhaps manufacture some frenzy over propaganda for our torture-loving military. And if THAT’s what it is, my god, what next? Just keep pushing those hot buttons, that’s what. When enough members of faux outrage brigade gasp anew at the fact the CIA tortured Al Qaeda suspects in the hunt for Bin Laden, let them run with that. Faster than a mouse-click the hive would be humming about how Zero Dark Thirty let it slip that torture was one way the USA did whatever was necessary to bring Bin Laden down.

That would make us look pretty bad, wouldn’t it? Considering America’s ostensible stance against torture and the experts who’ve said that torture doesn’t work anyway so why do it? Now along comes Bigelow’s film to tell the truth about how things went down, without taking a specific side, and suddenly, Bigelow’s film ADVOCATES torture.  Bigelow’s film tells the story from the point of view of people on the ground, on the hunt.  Her job was not to smooth things over  for US politicians, nor to beat the drumbeat of barbarism to catch our killer at any cost. Zero Dark Thirty is not a propaganda film for either side. It is a story about people.

In the hysteria that has ensued, you’d think every trusting young boy had just walked in on mommy fucking the milkman.  Why was it so hard to grasp that Bigelow wanted to depict events accurately whether or not it pissed off liberals or republicans?  She, and screenwriter Mark Boal did the same thing with The Hurt Locker. That was a story about soldiers on the ground, our volunteer army sent into Iraq to fight a war based on lies, based on fear.  Bigelow’s 2008 film didn’t take political sides — she took the side of the people saddled with the unlucky task of fighting an unwinable war in a hornet’s nest.

Bigelow and Boal’s second collaboration, Zero Dark Thirty, is the story of a young female (OH MY GOD, ANOTHER WOMAN!) CIA agent whose mission it is to hunt down Bin Laden. Among many of the tactics in play during that time was torture.  But this agent’s method of finding Bin Laden did not include torture — she outwitted Bin Laden’s support net in a way no one else could figure out. Moreover, her ideas were met with continual resistance. When her method produced results, every pair of testicles within a 50-mile radius stepped in to take credit. Ain’t that always the way?

Let’s face it, powerful women just freak everybody the fuck out. Everywhere in general, but especially in Hollywood.  Would Andrew Sullivan have flipped out if, say, Oliver Stone had made Zero Dark Thirty? Doubt it. He certainly wouldn’t have responded so emotionally, I’m guessing.  The same incredulous lack of confidence in Bigelow’s ability to handle this story (which she did, with flying colors) was, ironically, exactly what the real Maya encountered, and is still encountering, within the CIA. She was passed over for a promotion. She was discussed as having “personality problems” because she dared to confront people who tried to dilute her accomplishment.

The Hurt Locker was never this ruthlessly attacked because liberals felt it reflected their view of the war in Iraq. Zero Dark Thirty takes audiences to a more ambiguous place and asks US to take a stand on torture, perhaps. It asks us to answer the question of whether it was really all worth it. After the 3000 souls who perished when the Twin Towers fell, what was the extended cost of 9/11 that America wrought in return? Add nore than 6,000 dead US soldiers in both wars to those who died in New York that, and the toll is close to 10,000 before we even start counting innocent Iraqi and Afghan civilians. While that endless carnage raged on, Maya was given a singular task: find Bin Laden.  She does it. But has it meant anything to those still fighting? Has it led to fewer attacks? Lasting peace? Of course, not because the struggle isn’t that simple and the movie isn’t interested in handing us simplistic answers.

And if all of that horrendous ruckus weren’t already enough, out trots has-been scandal-tweeter cum 80s lit celebutante Bret Easton Ellis, rearing up to tear down Bigelow for being attractive. At 61, Bigelow is beautiful, yes. She is the kind of beautiful that bad screenwriters always put in their bad scripts that turn into bad Hollywood movies. But Bigelow has always been beautiful. She was beautiful when the critics trashed Blue Steel and Point Break and K-19. She was beautiful when she couldn’t get a deal in Hollywood and was beautiful in 2009 when The Hurt Locker became the best reviewed film of the year and won the Oscar for Best Picture and Best Director. So, if it was all about her looks, what took so long? Wouldn’t Hollywood have thrown its self at her feet long before she hit her 60s?

His own meteor-ride petered out, Ellis has nowhere left to go and apparently no better way to spend his time than to say dumb things on Twitter in hopes of soaking up some of attention that has dribbled away from him in other areas. Everyone who follows him knows this. Now every tawdry news story links to him, of course, trailing after Bigelow’s success like a dirty piece of toilet paper stuck to the bottom of her boot.

But wait. There’s more. Now Bigelow’s relationship with Mark Boal is also a hot topic for wagging tongues because GOD KNOWS the last thing ANYONE wants to talk about is how good the movie is. Because that would mean … she wasn’t a one-trick-pony. That would mean … it wasn’t just about sticking it to Jim Cameron. That would mean — gasp! can it be possible? — might Kathryn Bigelow actually be… a GREAT FILMMAKER?

Bigelow isn’t the only woman running the sexist gauntlet this year. As we all know, the Oscar race and Hollywood roll on greased testicles. Movies directed by women? Hell, you can count them on one diddly finger.  Ava DuVernay, who became the first African-American female to win Best Director as Sundance has been riding a parallel track to Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild since the festival.  Both films were highly praised, though Beasts has the feel-good component voters love. Middle of Nowhere is more truthful, but equally brilliant. DuVernay is a filmmaking pioneer trying to do what’s never really been done — bridge the gap between black and white stories by not telling the sort of stereotypical “black story” white audiences have come to expect.

She raised all of the money for her film herself, and is getting by during FYC season with the help of a tightly-knit community of supporters, as well as a few bloggers and critics here and there who have seen the film and are nudging it into the spotlight. We might have hoped that the one awards group to appreciate her what she’s done and look past exclusionary blinders would have been the NAACP. But no. The NAACP nominations came out and Middle of Nowhere didn’t make Best Film. These films did:

“Beasts of the Southern Wild” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
“Django Unchained” (The Weinstein Company)
“Flight” (Paramount Pictures)
“Red Tails” (Lucasfilm)
“Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds” (Lionsgate)

Three of the five of these films were directed by white men. Two weren’t. None by women, of course.  And if that wasn’t diss enough, they also put out an independent list:

“Beasts of the Southern Wild” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
“Chico & Rita” (GKIDS)
“Red Tails” (Lucasfilm)
“Unconditional” (Harbinger Media Partners)
“Woman Thou Art Loosed: On the 7th Day” (Codeblack)

Because, of course, why not give Beasts of the Southern Wild and Red Tails Best Film double honors at the expense of fresh voices at the fringe. The only Best Independent film directed by a woman is Woman Thou Art.

The point here isn’t to call the NAACP sexist. And it isn’t to say that they don’t do what every awards voting group does. But the oversight is glaring nonetheless. They failed to recognize a true pioneer in the African-American film community.  Sure, no one ever wants to kick up a fuss about anything. Everyone would prefer we stay in our corners and continue to talk about Anne Hathaway’s cooch and Kate and Wil’s baby and which film is going to win Best Picture. The last thing we want to talk about is a systemic breakdown in our glitzy annual pageant, as pathways for female filmmakers are blocked at every turn.

Whatever fate awaits these women at the end of this year’s red carpet ceremonies, both Bigelow and DuVernay have made two of the best films of 2012. It’s always hard to get consensus support for a female director among mostly male voters. If you’re a black female filmmaker it’s doubly hard. That DuVernay is earning acclaim from the white critical community probably also stirs a certain amount of jealousy. We never know what motives drives people to diminish or disregard an artist. It’s a cruel fact of human nature that our first reaction to perceived threats is fear, and crueler still is the second reaction — to lash out. Bigelow’s film appears destined to become the best reviewed film of the year. It will likely join Benh Zeitlin’s Beast of the Southern Wild as one of the nominated Best Pictures.  Middle of Nowhere will mostly likely not. But that doesn’t mean both don’t deserve the honor. Here’s to many more films made by DuVernay and Bigelow. And here’s to testicles, too. Men who possess the best are ballsy enough to share their power.

 

 

109 Comment

  1. I dunno. maybe i’m naive. but i think we’re past this- aren’t we? why can’t we just say a bigelow is one hell of a director? male or female. who cares? i dunno, i know i’m coming from the male perspective- but i think all this constant talking and bringing attention to the fact that bigelow is a female director does a disservice to her. I wish the art itself were the story- not always the constant focus on her sex.

  2. All this just because Zero Dark 30 wasn’t nominated for SAG ensemble?

  3. No, actually, nothing to do with the ensemble snub. Think bigger.

  4. Sigh. Sasha, I admire your views and everything but I’m honestly tired of the whole “POWERFUL WOMEN!” “WOMEN ARE THE BESTEST” debacle you most commonly pull. I have to agree with @Drake, we are SO past this. As a woman, I don’t give a shit if the director is a man or a woman I just enjoy some good movies.

    I’m tired that your most common review of ZDT is “STRONG POWERFUL WOMAN” and to be honest, I find it annoying. I hate people writing “strong female characters” for the sake of them being a “strong female character” as if women were never strong to begin with. I hate how people (mostly feminists) like you think that for a woman to be “strong and powerful” she has to act like a man, think like a man and step outside of gender roles like your idol Kathryn Bigelow or her character that Jessica Chastain portrays you rave so much about. I’m tired that sometimes I feel like people like you think that a woman has to wear pants or be a CEO or be in the army to be strong. I’m offended that people think a woman such as my mother who was all loving and devoted and caring is ignored as being “strong” because she was a housewife of choice and apparently women who choose those paths can’t be “strong”. I’m tired of people thinking that women are inferior to men and “girl power” is soooo in style. I’m tired of misogyny being declared by you and by other people because “oh if it was a man this” or “if it was a man that”. I’m tired that a strong women needs to lead men or be on top of men like life is some sort of food pyramid.

    You wrote, “Bigelow and Boal’s second collaboration, Zero Dark Thirty, is the story of a young female (OH MY GOD, ANOTHER WOMAN!)” and I honestly don’t like that attitude. Women don’t need protection, Sasha. We don’t need women characters to be written for the purpose to be “strong” when I would rather women characters to be written like every other single freaking character and have the same equal treatment. And Bigelow is not a “female director” to me, because I prefer to see her just as a director.

    Hollywood is not “threatened” by “powerful women”. And I’m sorry Sasha, I love your blog, but everything has to be misogynistic to you. I thought we were already past this and we’re already in the 21st century. Besides, Hollywood is already dominated by women isn’t it?

    I’m sorry to be bitter but politics seeping into how we perceive people, interests, etc. is something I hate.

  5. Take it easy, Sasha. Lincoln is clearly unstoppable at this point, Les Miserable received horrible reviews and Tom Hooper has been criticized enough to receive Razzie Award. Finally one of your favorites is going to win best picture and one of the directors you hate the most is going to pay for tearing your heart out two years ago. This season is nearly as good as it gets for you, don’t ask too much.

  6. “I thought we were already past this and we’re already in the 21st century”

    And yet no female president…I am sure it is coincidental, because of course we are soooo past this.

  7. …”Anne Hathaway’s cooch”…?!?

  8. Vivian – Hollywood is not dominated by women and never has been. Most of the Academy’s Best Picture nominees have been about men, from a male perspective. That is not what the world looks like and that’s never been what America looks like. I see nothing wrong with celebrating a film that’s not the status quo, because it’s an excellent film AND because it’s not the status quo.

    There’s also nothing objectionable to Sasha celebrating “strong women” characters. I agree that we shouldn’t have to call women characters “strong” as if they aren’t strong to begin with—but don’t you see that’s the problem Sasha is fighting? We notice strong women in film because there are STILL so few of them. So few women whose narratives do not revolve around a man.

    And no one is saying your mother isn’t strong. Come on. Sasha isn’t out to demean anyone’s personal life decisions.

    I enjoyed this piece, Sasha. Thanks for always sticking your neck out and writing about topics that aren’t always well-received.

  9. ……. I’m confused by the above comment. You are aware that strong female roles are NOT written for women very often, right? Women are STILL dumbed down to roles similar to what Jennifer Lawrence could possibly win the Oscar for. Sasha is MERELY saying that it is astonishing that an organization FOR THE AFRICAN AMERICAN COMMUNITY would choose to omit one of its brightest new filmmakers?

  10. meaning to @Vivian

  11. i think we’re past this- aren’t we?

    Sasha is past it. I’m past it. Sounds like you might be past it too, Drake.

    Let me put it to you this way: Most of us here have all evolved past any personal issues about racial equality too, right? Tell me, Drake. Just because you and I are settled in our own minds about race do you think that means everybody in Hollywood is? Do you think the issue of racism is all solved just because you’re “past it”? Do you think there’s no reason to ever mention the problems of racism just because you’re not a racist?

    If you’re not sexist, then this article isn’t pointing a finger at you, alright? Good to hear you have nothing more to gain by reading another single word about sexism.

    “I wish the art itself were the story.”

    The movie itself is always the main story around here. But it’s absurd to ask us to ignore the fact that Kathryn Bigelow is a woman — that’s another very valid part of the story to many of us. One day women filmmakers will be given equal opportunities throughout Hollywood — (and maybe someday a woman will even be paid the same wage as a man for being a WalMart manager too). When that day comes, nobody will need to mention the topic of sexual inequality ok?

    Meanwhile, sorry you feel all the “constant talking and bringing attention to the fact that bigelow is female” is irrelevant.

    (Hang on… So you think there’s nothing to more to say about sexism? Nothing more to discuss? Wait, Was I wrong in assuming your attitude is not the least bit sexist?)

  12. @Joan

    Hahaha good one, Joan

    Honestly I just don’t understand why people get so bent out of shape over every article that Sasha writes that doesn’t agree with your views on things. I mean seriously if it upset you that much then don’t read it, plain and simple. If somebody feel strongly about a certain topic then why not use their own platform to voice their opinion. And I am not directly speaking to Vivian, just speaking out loud to people in general. That’s All

  13. @Joan – as if a female president will suddenly be a step forward for equality. I’m no anarchist, but presidents and governments are oppressive no matter who is in office. If Hillary Clinton becomes a presidential candidate it’s quite obvious people will vote for her just because she’s a woman and ignore her murderous, pro-war, killing of innocent men, women and children (just like Obama) and foreign policies. Heck, Australia voted Julia Gillard just because she’s a woman and she’s one of Australia’s worst Prime Ministers. Equality!

    @Ryan – to be fair…the wage gap is a myth. Gosh I sound very bad speaking as a woman right now but the wage gap is a myth and is caused by how men are more likely to work in careers that can be life-threatening and men are more likely to work full-time and men are more likely to work in the sciences, engineering, etc. whilst women normally work in the arts, education, fashion, etc. and safer jobs and less hours. There is no discrimination in wage, although I think women who take a maternity leave should have better compensation. I hate to discuss these things here though.

    When I said Hollywood is dominated by women I meant the celebrity Hollywood.

    @Kate – thanks for your civilised response. I totally respect your opinion here. But yes there is this idea that most people think a strong female character has to be like Jessica Chastain in ZDT. While she may be strong, it’s sort of weird to me that a strong woman has to be like a man. I have always loved characters like Scarlett O’Hara, Annie Hall, and characters like Sansa Stark, Catelyn Stark, Arya Stark, Cersei Lannister in ASOIAF (AKA Game of Thrones).

    Hopefully my opinions don’t hurt too many people. I just like giving my 2 cents.

  14. @MKing

    Why should all comments wind up being the same? That’s what a comments section is for. You’re gonna have negative and positive comments, especially on a subject with potentially divisive viewpoints. I generally side with Sasha on what she’s saying, but the whole “if it bothers you that much then don’t read it” mindset pisses me off. So only people who agree with Sasha should comment on her articles then? Give me a break.

  15. Thank you for speaking up and out about Ava DuVernay and the NAACP. Many in the community including myself are outraged. I also am saddened to see the film not pickup SAG. But I suppose it’s more about power and money because it certainly isn’t on the merits of DuVernay’s brilliant film. I love what you’ve said here about DuVernay and Bigelow both. Keep talking even though some may try to convince you it’s no use. They are wrong.

  16. Spell check error. Nigella = BIgelow.

    [fixed!]

  17. I think Vivian and Sasha both make good points. I relate to Vivian because I don’t really read other Oscariana outside of this site, so I don’t feel like anyone needs to get all Catherine McKinnon up in here. But I get Sasha’s perspective because she *does* read everything in the GoldDerby-Nikki Finke-Variety-THR world out there, and so for her, shit needs to get real.

    But if Bigelow is gonna join a club of two, meaning her and David Lean as the only 2 people to hit BD/BP on consecutive films, YEAH people are gonna talk about is she or isn’t she a great filmmaker. There’s nothing inherently sexist about that, and I can prove that by linking to the same conversations – on this very site – about Tom Hooper a month ago when people thought he might be the one to join Lean. I saw Point Break in a theater when it came out; it was better than meh, but it wasn’t great either. I saw Strange Days in a theater and squirmed at the goddamn unnecessary rape. Whatever else we say about Bigelow, she wasn’t exactly Scorsese for her first decade of filmmaking. Who was? The Coens. David Lynch. David Fincher. John Sayles. More people than that. I recognize that they got more opportunities because they were white men, but that only goes so far. The films are the films. So don’t tell me I’m sexist to say, whoa, is Bigelow really in the pantheon? They asked that about Clint Eastwood before Million Dollar Baby, so Bigelow gets the same question. Anything else would be sexist.

    Hey I’m a civilian, I haven’t seen ZDT. The Hurt Locker deserved it and maybe so does ZDT. If that happens I will put Bigelow in my mental Hilary Swank category. I am not one of these Swank haters that pop up around here, because I have 2 eyes, and thus I know that she happened to entirely deserve both of those Oscars in those 2 years. Doesn’t matter who else doesn’t have two Oscars; she earned those. If Bigelow is there, so be it. That’s merit, baby, not gender obsession.

    ****

    This is almost off topic, but not. I will someday write an article about Oscar BPs and their relatively mainstream politics. Not “safe” – although that happens – but if the race is between something perceived as leftist and something perceived as having appeal to both left and right, the latter one wins all the time.

    No it’s not just Brokeback and Crash. It’s also Reds and Chariots of Fire. It’s also JFK and Silence of the Lambs. It’s also Traffic and Gladiator. And there are a lot more.

    I see the torture controversy actually helping ZDT win BP, that’s all I’m saying. I mean, if Spielberg had made FDR, the movie, it would be over, give the statue to ZDT. But because the GOP is supposed to be the party of Lincoln, it’s not over. Anyway I know this article isn’t really about torture and Oscar odds. But we haven’t really been chatting about that, so there you are.

  18. @Vivian I am going to ignore all the twisting you did to everybody’s comments to fit whatever agenda you are trying to push here and I will concentrate on this:

    “@Joan – as if a female president will suddenly be a step forward for equality.”

    Soooo..you are admitting there is no equality, i.e. we are not past this.

    This conversation would be more productive, if you actually knew what you wanted to say. As it is, I quit.

  19. @Ken G

    Clearly you are missing the point. It’s not about if you agree or disagree with Sasha. If a person writes that they are tired of Sasha and Ryan talking about this topic, and that topic, then clearly you stand no chance of putting a stop to what they are going to write about…..soooooo why keep reading it or commenting on it. If I responded to every person who wrote something on here that I don’t like then I would never have a life. There are plenty of articles on here and other oscar sites that I don’t agree with, but I don’t waste my time commenting on all of them continuously complaining about why do such and such keep talking about this and that. I heard that words were powerful but damnit they aren’t magical….she is not just gonna stop writing about something she is passionate about because people on here don’t agree with it. That’s why I said if you don’t like it, don’t read it. It really is simple, Ken G

  20. @Ken G

    Before I take my ass sleep LOL. I want to make it aware that I am not speaking directly to Vivian. I have no problem with Vivian stating their opinion. I was just merely speaking about the posters here that have a major problem with Sasha and Ryan constantly talking/ bring up subjects over and over, as if complaining about it will somehow put a stop to it. So this is not about agreeing and disagreeing, hell I love a good debate. Now I am gonna take my ass to bed.

  21. @unlikely hood – you make a good point. It would be really significant if Bigelow pulls of back-to-back wins, especially in such a competitive year. It’s also true that her career was very hit & miss & plenty meh until the Hurt Locker, but I do feel like, if she only recently became brilliant, so be it. There’s no denying THL is an amazing film, and it honestly sounds like she ups her game in ZDT. If it took her this long to hit her stride, that doesn’t matter. She hit it now. Just like it doesn’t matter that Hilary Swank has two Oscars while many actresses with far more consistent filmographys have none (I actually complain about that alot, but anyway) – the fact is she earned her two and if that’s the only good work she’s done (not quite the case, but certainly nothing else she’s done is really on the same level), then so be it.

    I don’t feel like I really had anything to say, but there I just repeated what you said.

  22. And also, as a man, I appreciate Sasha taking a stand and voicing her concerns. Is Hollywood a boy’s club. Hell yes. Do women have to feel like they have something to prove? Probably yes and no. Are women already strong? Of course, many are. Do the stories and characters & perspectives we see on screen matter? Hell yes! I’m thrilled whenever I find a film or character that I can one day show to my daughter to let her know that there are stories for her beyond Disney princess or quirky romantic interest.

    Is Sasha’s view slanted? Maybe. Does she see sexism everywhere? Maybe. But someone has to! If you have good reason for not agreeing with her, then power to you, but it’s important that people like Sasha get us thinking & talking about it, and maybe becoming more aware of it.

  23. The title of this article – “Female Trouble” – reminds me of Dawn Davenport (Jessica Chastain) proclaiming: “Yes I killed bin Laden and I’m proud OF it!”

  24. It really doesn’t matter in the scheme of things whether Kathryn Bigelow wins her second Oscar or not at this point. She’s cracked the ceiling and now what needs to happen is that the crack widens so that other female voices can reach the same pinnacle. But what Bigelow has accomplished is that she not only is the first woman director to find herself with back to back success but that success is based on artistic achievement. She won’t be regulated to the a label of the “first woman” to win an Oscar for directing. Zero puts her in a totally different category and one hopes it opens the door wider than it has been for others. Lina Wertmuller became a side note to Oscar history, Kathryn Bigelow will never be a side note. Now we just wait to see if she is lucky enough to take home a second Oscar.

    As for the torture you have too expect that response because my generation believed and held it as truth that we didn’t do that kind of thing, only the enemy did that. What we’ve now been forced to face, like it or not, is that we are just as capable of that behavior. That’s an uncomfortable realization. It’s an uncomfortable realization because once you accept the idea that we are capable the next question becomes are we capable of doing it to our own. So what you’re seeing regarding the issue of torture is a lot of people not wanting to accept something we believed we were above. I’m not going to get into a political debate of right or wrong because this isn’t the place for it. But I think understanding why some people would object is valid. It’s the not film they are really objecting about it’s the acceptance that we are capable of such behavior that’s illicting the reactions.

    Iraq and Afghanistan has forced us to see things that shocked us about our own behavior. I just don’t think that a film can be blamed for our own discomfort. There will be those who do but that doesn’t mean that them blaming the film is truth. The truth is it happened and if you’re that uncomfortable about it then go to the source and make your voice heard there. It’s weak to use a film as an excuse or as the focal point of responsibility for real behavior.

  25. I’m DYING to watch ZD30 and, though it is almost completely unknown amongst my friends here in Rio, every single person I’ve shown the trailer to was VERY excited about it. so my question is: does it REALLY matter that it is directed by a woman? sure; Oscar-narrative wise, it’s a lovely story. but this DOES seem to be this year’s best directed film (according to reviews – I haven’t seen it).

    if it REALLY is that good (and it apparently is), its historical components don’t matter. and that’s the best thing about all this: the film is awarded not because of what its director has between her legs (not that that happened with “THL” – all of its wins were well deserved in my opinion; even though I saw it in ’08 =P), but because hers was truly an amazing achievement in film direction. sometimes the narrative of these awards match their resonance. it seems this will happen again this year.

    My favourite film of the year so far is “Rust and Bone”, btw… but I’m rooting for Bigelow and Chastain mostly because of my unwavering belief that the latter will marry me someday =)

  26. Vivian, I appreciate you trying to set me straight, but there are thousands of cases and hundreds of articles from reliable news sources that indicate there’s a gender discrimination problem at WalMart far more complex and widespread than my simple example can describe.

    Forbes
    dailykos
    HuffingtonPost

    Walmart does not offer the same opportunities for advancement — and therefore limits the salary ceiling on their female employees.

    That’s not a myth. It’s a fact. These are not old cases that have been resolved. That last link about outlining Walmart’s own corporate compensation policies is less than 3 weeks old.

  27. and, as much as I wish Andrea Arnold or Sofia Coppola (who had my vote in ’03 – even if she was up against my countryman Meirelles and my nerdlords Jackson and Weir) became the next female BD winners, I have no problem with Bigelow winning it again and, thus, making history for the second time. She is a talented filmmaker with a very particular vision and, even if I end up hating her film, I will still be quite glad if her peers choose to award her once more.

    Political and maybe even a bit hypocritical of me? sure. until I see all of the films, I can’t really opine on the race. so, what I’m saying is, nothing makes sense yet. can’t we just appreciate the fantastic films we had last year for now??

    also; Holy Motors is probably the best film of ’12. I can’t make heads or tails of it. but I KNOW it’s too smart for me and that its artists are so far ahead of me. I love it like I love my eldest brother: I know it’s better than everything else in other way, but I hate that their perfection are so beyond my comprehension (my brother is VERY good looking and steals all the girls from me. he is, however, completely oblivious to his effect on them. I can see an analogy here somehow).

  28. also, I know this is not the right topic for this, and that I shouldn’t talk about films I haven’t seen, but as a person who has been suffering with SERIOUS Bipolar II disorder for quite a while (culminating with my willful admittance to a mental hospital earlier this year), can I ask if its depiction of mental illness is accurate (as it appears to be in the trailer – I am always the first to laugh at my condition)?

    if it does end up being a popular film, I hope it portrays mental illnesses accurately… the biggest problem I see among fellow sufferers is the shame to admit that they’re ill. I hope this film begins to turn this around. the biggest shame about mental illness is trying to get through it alone, IMO. it is nothing to be ashamed of; and asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but of a true desire to get better.

  29. This strong female thing bothers me too, but it’s not Bigelow’s fault. The Academy decides to reward a woman with a very “masculine” point of view in filmmaking, but not womens with a strong female sensibility, like Jane Campion, for example. A woman could never win an Oscar for directing a romance.

    But it’s not Bigelow’s fault to be interested in war and action.

  30. When Ang Lee won the best director for Brokeback Mountain, the media didn’t brag about Ang Lee’s being the first Asian director who ever won the best director award.(Some media did, but not to the extent like the way they hailed Bigelow as the first woman in history who won the best directing Oscar, I just think it is a bit unfair for Ang Lee, not only he is the first Asian who won best directing, he is also the first Taiwan born filmmaker who did so!)
    Yes, as a Taiwanese born individual, the people in Taiwan shared the pride and were absolutely thrilled that Lee won the best directing Oscar that year, and still do. so I understand where Sasha is coming from, but I would not say Ang Lee’s wining of best directing Oscar seems to become a “threat” to Hollywood. Of course, the inequality still exists in this country, and Ang Lee might be poised to be nominated for his second directing nomination, and he has also made a remarkable, and well received film as well, I take pride for his achievement as a Taiwanese born person. However, Ang Lee is a director, just like Bigelow, and both are Oscar winners, and both are minorities working in the film industry. To be resentful or dwell on the race and gender might become “reverse” sexist or racist.(I know that wasn’t your intention). I totally understand where you are coming from, but your attitude is a bit extreme and radical. Bigelow posts no threat, nobody is against her. Just because LA Film Critics and SAG didn’t show much love for ZDT doesn’t mean they are waging a war against her. We know it is remarkable for Bigelow to have pulled off a career as a female filmmaker in Hollywood, but can we just pass the fact that she is a director and an Oscar winner? Just like Ang Lee being an Oscar winner, but Sasha, while I try to respect your point, you always come off as kind angry, resentful against those people who might not be impressed by Bigelow. Can we just see her as a director? She poses no threat to Hollywood, come on already.

  31. its official, if u dont like ZD30 and bow down to its greatness, its because you are sexist.

    never mind that Andrew Sullivan has been anti-torture forever, including during George Bush’s years, and last time i looked, Bush wasnt a woman.

    also, i am sick of the strong woman angle. i saw Jessica Chastain interviewd and the first thing out her mouth was this film is about a strong ass woman who kicks azz and i am just like, puh lease. if this film isnt political, why are you playing up the girl angle?

    this film is political big time. its about feminism.

  32. “Zero Dark Thirty is not a propaganda film for either side. It is a story about people.”
    But to avoid being political by appearing as “neutral” or “avoiding” Obama’s involvement as a commander in chief is in itself slightly propaganda. I have not seen the film, and I can’t wait to see it, but I have heard Bigelow criticized Obama by using Obama’s promise of ending waterboarding in juxtaposition with an anti waterboarding statement from Obama either as a candidate or president as 08, that is side taking already. Obama is the commander in chief, the action of killing Obama had to be approved and oked by him, if Bigelow wanted to be truthful, she should’ve included a scene or some kind of offscreen soundbite for it. It is not all about one girl, it is not a one man effort. I just hope the film told the truth as much as it could, and not just try to dwell on this notion of “the girl that saved the day and kill Bin Laden”,,,I look forward to seeing it.

  33. ” saw Jessica Chastain interviewd and the first thing out her mouth was this film is about a strong ass woman who kicks azz and i am just like, puh lease. if this film isnt political, why are you playing up the girl angle?”
    That is my deepest fear about this film, and by the way, it is true that in real life the success of the killing of Osama was due to a female CIA agent and no one else? If that wasn’t the case, the ZDT is no different from typical cliched films featuring overused and cliched strong female characters inspired by Clarice or Ripley. I hope I am wrong, December 19th can’t come any sooner.

  34. “,,if that was the case, then ZDT would be no different from,,”
    I mean.
    I think Hilary Swank could have played Maya as well,,

  35. From Mark Harris’ excellent article at the link (great photo, too!)
    ‘”It’s a movie that confirms Bigelow and Boal’s position as probably our most prominent and least sentimental cultural custodians of the post-9/11 war era.”

    Here’s the link, if you want to read something more interesting than comments from columnists who have NOT seen the film:
    http://www.vulture.com/2012/12/mark-boal-kathryn-bigelow-on-zero-dark-thirty.html

    He’s right. Regarding the torture shown in the film, Bigelow and Boal have both stated that they were portraying it, not advocating it. It’s what happened and it is supposed to make you uncomfortable.

    Here’s the link to the interesting Charlie Rose interview Boal and Bigelow did the other night:
    http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/12686

    Regarding the sexism issue, here’s a hypothetical test. Imagine you were plunked down in a theater to watch Zero Dark Thirty and had absolutely no idea who made it. After it is over, you are asked, “In your opinion, would you say the filmmaker a man or a woman?”

    Regardless of your stance on the sexism issue, your response would be, “a man.” This indicates that preconceived notions about gender have been ingrained in all of us, whatever your politcal stripe.

    Bigelow and Boal, from all accounts of those who have seen it, have not only made a brilliant film, they’ve taken a major step in smashing gender stereotypes that exist not only in filmmaking, but in the public psyche.

    And I really love that photo in Mark Harris’ post (guess I already said that.)

  36. Sasha, why are you so intense when you write? Calm down, please. Relax, take it easy.

  37. I haven’t seen ZDT yet, so I can’t comment on the film, but I find it very interesting you pointing out that people are now saying that it advocates torture. It reminds me of when, in 2008, Elite Squad (Tropa de Elite) won the golden bear in Berlin and (mostly) american and british writers/critics were calling it a fascist film that advocates police violence and torture. Obviously it just wasn’t the case.

    What it seemed to us brazilians was that it’s ok if artsy east european and latin american films win any major cinema prize. That’s what we do after all. But when we talk about action, thriller and (police) violence movie, then we better not touch it. So I totally understand when you say that all this bashing comes from she being a woman directing a film that is exclusive for white male north american directors.

  38. The problem isn’t Kathyrn writing a strong female character. The problem is strength is still regarded as a male trait. People have been so conditioned to think Men=strong leaders and women= sensitive supporters that it’s gonna take a long time to reverse the thinking. And the main reason is that people aren’t aware of how conditioned we are.

    And yes there are still few female characters who are the stars in their own stories. And few of them are portrayed as being not sorry for being strong or focused on their careers. Oh no more often than not Hollywood(often men) need to portray these women as “Yeah they have strength but their personal lives are a mess and they still desire marriage and children so don’t feel too intimidated by them everyone.”

    Judging by reviews of 0D30 Maya’s personal life isn’t touched on at all which would make it extremely rare. You mean a movie with a female protagonist doesn’t have some unneccesary love subplot or any other personal conflict that has nothing to do with the main plot of the movie? SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!!! Of course if I’m wrong do correct me.

    As for Middle of Nowhere’s snub, I too was surprised and disappointed by the NAACP. A well received film by a black woman filmmaker doesn’t happen very often. The whole concept of the award is to recognize positive faces in black entertainment and Ava’s film is right up there in doing that. There’s plenty of black filmmakers out there who can use the attention. Why not give them some?

    And people still think we’re past all of this? Clearly not judging by the comments in this article alone.

  39. There is no argument.

    Sasha, guurrrrrrl, you just #TOOK. #IT. #DOWN.

  40. I don’t buy an argument that says all objections to ZD30 are motivated by sexism.

    we would be beating up any director male or female who implies torture may have led us to Bin Laden.

  41. And yet, I suspect this celebration of feminism is going to have a tougher time sellling to women than men. Which presumably is why there are three ZD30 commercials running on every NFL game I see, even weeks out from release.

    Is this the same anti-woman establishment that gave Bigelow the Best Director award three years ago? over Avatar? Is this anti-woman conspiracy so powerful that it couldn’t even rally its support around her ex-husband? For the highest-grossing movie of all time?

  42. I’d encourage interested readers to see what Andrew Sullivan said about the use of torture in this movie at The Daily Beast website. He makes a convincing case that the big takeaway from Zero Dark Thirty is “torture works.” Also check out the comments made by the screenwriter Mark Boal in today’s NY Times where he says the movie is not a documentary: the writer and director made choices for dramatic reasons.

    If there is a fuss about the depiction of torture and the results attributed to it, I don’t think it has squat to do with it having been directed by a woman. That’s just Sasha being Sasha, mounting this year’s soapbox and telling us to expect her finger-wagging on this non-issue for the next couple of months.

  43. Chung, yep, notice how no Fredrick Douglas in Lincoln, and no Obama is Zero Dark Thirty?

    dont say that though otherwise you are either sexist or an uptight liberal. but hollywood is just continuing their old ways and white washing black people out of their own history. The new narrative is that the Killing of Osama was by a bunch of hardworking, no frills, no flash, just all business white people. which is ya typical right wing fantasy of America. It was not by a big fancy talking, black guy. which is another sterotype about black men, especially in sports. u know they cocky black athlete vs the hardworking humble white dude. except in sports, those cocky black athletes from Jack Johnson, through Muhammad Ali and Michael Jordan, always delivered.

    would love to see someone out there with balls tackle that subject. but these film critics, as witnessed on twitter in response to glenn greenwald, are so sensitive. just blind worship of so called greatness, no partypoopers allowed. its hillarious.

  44. also, Chung makes a great point. if the scene where obama is shown disavowing torture is meant to be a criticism of obama , doesnt that mean that the filmmakers are implying that torture was crucial? the criticim is meant to be that obama said one thing in terms of torture, yet he approved a mission which was only made possible by getting information by torture? nice catch chung. so at least we can stop the pretense that this film is not implying that torture was instrumental.

  45. so at least we can stop the pretense that this film is not implying that torture was instrumental

    What pretense? Whose pretense?

    Thats exactly Sasha’s point. Stop gasping about the fact that torture is a horrible tool that’s sometimes effective. The movie deals with this fact unblinkingly. People who pee their pants over this fact need to grow up. The world is a brutal place. Zero Dark Thirty portrays that brutality with steely-eyed honesty. The movie lets the audience judge how to feel about it.

    There’s no “pretense” — geez, how have you guys missed the point of that paragraph so badly?

  46. I don’t agree with some of the comments you made, Sasha, but I agree with your overall message for the most part. You guys shouldn’t have to stay in your corner and talk about best picture, it would get real old, real fast. However, I do feel that there aren’t enough good female directors out there. That’s not to say that I believe Hollywood is sexist (you’ve been there, I haven’t) but that there literally aren’t as many good female (black or white) filmmakers compared to good male filmmakers because male filmmakers in general outnumber female filmmakers many-to-one. I went to two different colleges for film and there weren’t that many women in my classes for filmmaking, well there were but not compared to men. So for me it’s not that I wish Hollywood would recognize more women flimmakers, it’s that I wish more women would voice their own work. The ones that I did come across at school had a GREAT voice, one did a bit of work that reminded me of Pariah. But these awards bodies are awarding the best, you can’t expect Stephanie Meyers to get in over other great directors if she constantly makes fluff with no edge. I saw Middle of Nowhere at Sundance and heard Ava speak, she is incredibly talented and very modest, barely wanting any attention at all and she focused all that attention on her actors, like in Middle of Nowhere. Now, I loved that movie but I don’t think it’s alongside Lincoln, The Master, Flight, Silver Linings Playbook not because those were directed by men but because Middle of Nowhere did not connect with me as much, and it truly did connect with me but not on the level as the others. Middle of Nowhere was more an actor’s showcase that deserves a couple acting nominations (in a different year in might get one for Corinealdi) and DuVernay’s direction was subtle, sublime and caring for every character. The writing was great too. All of that must be farrrrrr better than Red Tails and Good Deeds…but hardly the films probably getting best picture nominations. Bigelow getting in for The Hurt Locker was mainly because she did make an exceptional film, like Lynn Ramsay almost making the cut for We Need to Talk About Kevin. Sure I think Hollywood can be sexist, but it doesn’t matter if it’s a male or female filmmaker. If it has the potential to make a ton of money then producers will back it. Think about this, for every woman who makes a good film and is overlooked for some recognition there are three male filmmakers who make good films and are overlooked as well. Great article though. I’m glad the internet has someone like you who cares about more than just Oscar stats and speaks from your heart.

  47. - the media didn’t brag [talk] about Ang Lee’s being the first Asian director who ever won the best director award.\

    Yes. They. Did.

    We Still Talk About Here. Every Year.

    The media does not “brag” (That word makes no sense in this context). But the fact Ang Lee was the first Asian-American to win Best Director was universally acknowledged, discussed, lauded.)

    Nobody “bragged” about Kathryn Bigelow either, by the way.

    - She poses no threat to Hollywood

    you’ve missed the point.

  48. I don’t buy an argument that says all objections to ZD30 are motivated by sexism.

    Nowhere does this piece say that.

  49. Just an FYI – in order to qualify for an NAACP nomination you are required to pay a fee of $200 per category. If you don’t pay can’t be considered. Let’s ask the filmmakers if they paid for consideration before with call out the NAACP.

  50. thanks Friedl

  51. I am sorry, Ryan. Maybe I should not have used the word “bragged”. No, that’s just not true. The media didn’t talk as much as Ang Lee being the first Asian director whoever won, they did mention, but not to the same way as they way media “emphasized” the gender significance of Bigelow’s winning the Oscar. Your own argument comes from defending Sasha without looking into the facts. Bigelow’s winning the Oscars in many ways was more significant to the media than Ang Lee’s winning as the first Asian director who won the best directing top price. I know it as Taiwanse, the only media was thrilled and “BRAGGED” about it was the media in Taiwan. Don’t give me that nonsense that the media was giving fair treatment between Lee and Bigelow’s significance in winning the Oscar directing as minorities. I find it a bit offensive. You are just totally missing the point and have no clues as what you are talking about when it comes to race relations.

  52. I came to your site through facebook posts that Middle of Nowhere has been posting on their page over the last few months. I have started visiting independently of those links because i enjoy your perspective. It saddens me that so many of your readers are under enlightened. So few of your readers have bothered to see Middle Of Nowhere that they can’t even include it in the comments on your post. Allergic reaction to black films by white people continues and is so obvious and sad to witness. I witness it here and witness again as both major awards shows black and white prove incapable of processing the film. Beyond that it is sad to me that so few of your readers can engage in conversation about gender politics without talking down to you. Men can and should be feminists too guys. Get a life and grow up. I just need to thank you for being one of the white writers who took Middle of Nowhere on as the important piece that it is and need to say shame on all of you who let the black skin and the woman’s point of view deter you from one of the best films of the year.

  53. no one commented on my comments… André sad… =P

  54. I’m with Vivian here.

    Sasha, big fan of the site and respect your views. But I remember when KB won for Hurt Locker and the first thing you did was say SHE WON ON MERIT, BECAUSE SHE WAS THE BEST, NOT FOR PRECEDENT. She wasn’t the best that year – Tarantino did much more interesting work in Inglorious Basterds and James Cameron created an entire world in Avatar. I can’t think of one ‘Bigelow’ shot that stands out years later in Hurt Locker. Most people can’t – but fine, if she won because she really was the best, then that’s great, and I’m sure a lot of voters felt that way. But how can you now say the big bad boy’s club is scared of her again when that same club, according to you, has already awarded her on merit? Doesn’t make sense.

    I’m dying to see this movie – this and Django are all I care about right now but I’m shocked you’d write, “That would make us look pretty bad, wouldn’t it? Considering America’s ostensible stance against torture and the experts who’ve said that torture doesn’t work anyway so why do it? Now along comes Bigelow’s film to tell the truth about how things went down, without taking a specific side, and suddenly, Bigelow’s film ADVOCATES torture.” Honestly, you think this film with its tons of uncited sources and necessarily made-up facts is ‘the truth of how things went down’? And you think the people who have trouble with this torture in the film – the NY Times, Sen. Carl Levin, and Sen. DIANNE FEINSTEIN – are just secret agents of the Hollywood misogyny club? I know you can fall in love with films to the detriment of your own critical analysis (I do it too!) but this is TORTURE. If the film really does manipulate the truth of torture, then that harms America because film can become a fake truth (as QT so brilliantly explores in Inglourious Basterds), and the last thing we need is more 24 syndrome where people think torture works, and thinks it’s an ok American practice.

  55. Ryan, before you attack me, I just have to make one thing clear. When Barbara Streisand said “The history has been made,,” after she opened the envelope to announce who won the best directing 2 years ago, everyone cheered. When Tom Hanks opened the envelope in 2006, did he say “The history has been made?” or remark like that? No, he didn’t, but I was not offended because Ang Lee won as a director, and he happened to be from my country, and that is a plus, but he never posed a threat to Hollywood, and I wasn’t resentful about it, but for you to equate the significance of Ang Lee and Bigelow’s winning Oscar as minorities when it comes to media’s coverage. You are wrong, the fact is that they did talk about Ang Lee’s winning as the first Asian American who won, but that coverage is nothing compared to the media’s reaction to Bigelow’s winning. Sasha didn’t write articles about like “What does it mean now? Asians have become threat to Hollywood”? Don’t give me that. You said you still talk about it here? I don’t recall Sasha talking about Ang Lee’s being Asian and the role that the race plays in Hollywood. You’ve missed the point.

  56. - that coverage is nothing compared to the media’s reaction to Bigelow’s winning

    I don’t know how to explain the difference in coverage to you Chung.

    I haven’t counted the exact number, but my guess would be there are more Female Americans than Asian Americans. What do you think? Possible? Maybe there’s a correlation between people who exist and how many people you counted who were exited about Bigelow and Lee.

    - I don’t recall Sasha talking about Ang Lee’s being Asian and the role that the race plays in Hollywood.

    Your failure to recall it isn’t really my responsibility.

    - the people in Taiwan shared the pride and were absolutely thrilled that Lee won the best directing Oscar that year, and still do. so I understand where Sasha is coming from

    see there, Chung! for a second there you understood it, but then it got away from you. In Taiwan (where a huge number of Taiwanese people live), Ang Lee’s winning was nearly as big a deal as Bigelow winning in America (where a huge number of female people live). You had it all figured out. Then you tossed your logic aside.

  57. There certainly was a big to-do about an Asian winning the Oscar for directing in 2005. Don’t you remember the moment they set Akira Kurosawa’s ashes on the podium and they had a medium announce Ang Lee’s name?

  58. Thanks for the correction, Chung. It was Tom Hanks. I think the urn I imagined him holding was for, um … well, out of respect for the recently passed, let’s just say it would remain empty up until this year.

  59. Ryan, you are missing the point. The point is in an ideal world, equality is supposed to be achieved and it doesn’t matter what the “quantity” is. Just because there are more female Americans than Asian Americans here, doesn’t mean that Ang Lee’s significance of winning an Oscar is less important, but you seem to imply that it is ok that Bigelow got more coverage than Lee because there are more female Americans than Asian male Americans here in this country, but unlike Sasha, I didn’t complain about it about the media’s coverage of Ang Lee, the reason I brought this up was all because Sasha’s resentment and insecurity about Bigelow. I was happy, I didn’t need the media’s coverage to know Ang Lee was from my country. You are totally off track because you whole defense is based on defending Sasha.

  60. “Ang Lee’s winning was nearly as big a deal as Bigelow winning in America (where a huge number of female people live). You had it all figured out. Then you tossed your logic aside.”
    The difference is it was even more challenging for Ang Lee to break through and have a career as an Asian, as a non American(you probably know what he had gone through, he came here as a student from Taiwan). Ang Lee had to deal with immigration as a non American, and Bigelow had to deal with what her being a woman, but her being an “American born” individual had already put her in a lot of advantages here as compared to Ang Lee, so you really want to go down that road with me about immigration? Or you simply just want to play defense attorney for Shash(understandable). You want to start lecturing me about how much you know what it is like as a minority here just because you want to win the argument and defend Sasha?
    Go right ahead, I will be quietly judging you!

  61. Yeah, Ryan, that is why Ang Lee’s winning the Oscar should have been just as significance because it was even more race for an Asian to win an Oscar for best directing because there aren’t as many “Asian Americans’ as white female Americans in this country!!

  62. - But you seem to imply that it is ok that Bigelow got more coverage than Lee because there are more female Americans than Asian male Americans here in this country

    hey, I’m not just implying it. I’m stating it point blank. It’s 100% understandable if you would stop being so hardheaded and face the simple realities of how the media works.

    Here’s something you might not know about “the media” Chung — they have an audience. They play to their audience. The media make a bigger deal about stories that more viewers in their audience care more about.

    - The point is in an ideal world…

    There you go! There’s the key. Now all you need to do is realize We Do Not Live In An Ideal World.

    Chung, hey, yes, it’s totally unfair that the same three angry Staten Island ladies were shown talking about Hurricane Sandy 900 times on every news channel for 3 days straight while I cannot remember one single lady from Haiti being interviewed about Hurricane Sandy. But if you can’t figure out the reason why some stories are played up and others given short shrift then, dude, you must spend your whole life being frustrated at the media.

  63. I’m with Chung – and let’s not forget, Lee won for a film that was hardly an easy sell – the story of a homosexual love affair in the American West. Bigelow won for a fairly standard if well told retread of Platoon, not exactly controversial. In 2005, after DOMA and so much homophobia it’s a miracle that things are getting better, Ang Lee, already himself ‘a foreigner’ won for something that is truly a part of cultural fabric, as a piece of art and a social statement. His direction was so good they had to give it to him. His film was so ‘controversial’ they gave Pic to Crash. Whether or not you think their precedent is the same, Lee’s Oscar was won with risk – Bigelow’s was not.

  64. Yeah, Ryan, that is why Ang Lee’s winning the Oscar should have been just as significance because it was even more race for an Asian to win an Oscar for best directing

    It was significant. It is significant. It will always be significant to people who understand its significance (and that includes Awards Daily readers).

    What’s significant and what the media covers are two entirely different things.

    hey, Chung. Breaking News: If you watch TV news to find out what’s significant, you’re gonna completely miss hearing about a whole lot of significant stuff.

  65. It seems to me difficult to prove that all resistance to “Zero Dark Thirty” is based on sexism and fear of an accomplished female director. Why should Bigelow’s film be immune to serious criticism? I don’t even think Ms. Bigelow herself would approve of a mentality of “shut up and stop criticizing me or I’ll accuse you of sexism.” An argument using a hypothesis that a blogger may have been less freaked out if Oliver Stone directed the film is extremely weak evidence of actual sexism towards Ms. Bigelow. Every director of every demographic stripe has a contingent of critics that do not like their work or point of view. Why should she be different?

  66. I agree with Rachel Raimist. Her Facebook about Sasha’s post: ” I think I need to stop reading the comments for articles like this… I get a really bad feeling about the world. You know the world that hates feminists like me.” these responses are ludicrous. Don’t stop speaking truth to patriarchy, Ms Stone. And please don’t stop championing Ms DuVernay and other women on the fringes like her.

  67. It seems to me difficult to prove that all resistance to “Zero Dark Thirty” is based on sexism and fear of an accomplished female director

    Good thing nobody is trying to prove that.

    get a clue, you guys: Are there serious honorable thought-provoking reasons for people to be troubled by questions about torture raised in Zero Dark Thirty? Of course. It’s meant to be troubling. You bet your ass, this is some serious shit.

    get another clue: Do people ever use troubling issues to muddy the water or taint perceptions by creating a cringe about sensitive topics in hopes of causing timid people (specifically voters) to shy away? You bet your hyperaware politicized Oscarwatching ass they do.

  68. Sasha, while I haven’t seen ZDT yet, in general, I agree with what you wrote. However, I do have to take slight issue with this:

    “DuVernay is a filmmaking pioneer trying to do what’s never really been done — bridge the gap between black and white stories by not telling the sort of stereotypical “black story” white audiences have come to expect.”

    I haven’t seen MIDDLE OF NOWHERE yet either (damn being unemployed), but with all due respect, there was a highly-underrated but little-seen movie from a couple of years ago that also tried to do what you say MIDDLE OF NOWHERE does, and that was Tanya Hamilton’s NIGHT CATCHES US, with Anthony Mackie as a former Black Panther returning to his old neighborhood, and co-starring Kerry Washington and, from “The Wire”, Wendell Pierce and Jamie Hector. And unlike with MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, the Image awards didn’t ignore the movie, giving it four nominations, including Best Independent Film and Best Director for Tanya Hamilton. If DuVernay is as talented as you say she is, I hope she goes on to bigger and better things, but she’s not the only one out there.

  69. Ryan, as long as you get my point. I was also pointing out even in the community of minorities, there is inbalance and inequality going. I said it was even more “rare”(sorry for the previous mispell)for an Asian like Ang Lee to pull a win, not to mention the controversial matter of BM, the point I am trying to make is that Ang Lee’s being from Taiwan and Asian seems to be less exciting than Bigelow being a woman and a U.S born American, and I think it is up to the media get the balance in terms of minorities’ achievements in the film industry. Bigelow doesn’t pose a threat to Hollywood, neither does Ang Lee, but their winning means Hollywood has become more diverse, but we still have yet to see the first black director winning an Oscar for best directing.

  70. CB, I agree with you 100 percent, you spoke my mind about Ang Lee and Brokeback Mountain.

  71. Glad to hear it. I think it was one of the last truly deserved Best Director Oscars in a very long time.

  72. if you’ve READ andrew sullivan’s articles on this, he’s not saying anything irrational. and he’s been emotional about torture FOREVER, it has nothing to do with her being a woman! he loved THL. yes, he absolutely would have freaked out if it was oliver stone who he thought was implying that torture “worked” and led to finding bin laden, no matter how awful it is.

    that is NOT TRUE. that’s what he’s upset about. no one’s mad that they showed torture in a graphic way, we know it happened. they’re mad because a lot of critics HAVE walked with the impression that it’s an effective tool that works, because that does go against the FACTS in this case. and mark boal admitted it! did you miss that? he said they it’s a movie not a documentary in response to the Senate committee and dianne fienstein’s assertion that torture was not instrumental in finding bin laden. it may have happened under the bush years, but his years of doing that were a total failure.

    obama outlawed torture as soon as he took office, ramped up the effort to get bin laden and got it done when bush/cheney could not.

    i understand people being angry if the movie gives the impression that torture works and led to bin laden. they’re angry because that is NOT TRUE

  73. Hunter, great point, but I would really like to know about how Osama was tracked down and killed. I don’t really know if it was really done successfully by one female CIA agent. I have a feeling it is a group effort involving many experts and the military, and finally approved by Obama in real life. ZDT is a probably a hollywood rendition of the event with a typical strong female character who kicks asses and saves the day. I just hope they didn’t sway too far away from what really happened.

  74. @MKing

    I’m sorry for the misunderstanding. I get what you’re saying now. But I do feel there is sometimes a sentiment on this site that disagreeing with Sasha is not ok. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me. But it’s all good. I just think that you have to expect divisive comments on a divisive topic.

  75. Thank you, Lily. And to reiterate my point that Ryan and Sasha may not have seen, a prominent person arguing against the film’s depiction of torture is DIANE FEINSTEIN – FEMALE (not that it should matter) democratic senator from California, who sits on the INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE. Sasha wrote this: “Now along comes Bigelow’s film to tell the truth about how things went down, without taking a specific side, and suddenly, Bigelow’s film ADVOCATES torture.” Well, apparently the film shows torture working with how they found al Quaeda’s courier system (haven’t seen it yet) – that is advocating (if you think killing bin Laden is a good thing, which um, we all do). Also, what is this ‘Now along comes Bigelow’s film to tell the truth of how things went down’ – no it doesn’t! It’s a largely hypothesized movie which means it doesn’t have to take a pro-torture stance at all! Ultimately, intelligence experts – of which Boal and Bigelow are not – have said torture has never worked in the War on Terror and, in fact, hurts our efforts. I’ll take their ‘truth’ over hers. Also, I have a pretty basic calculation: Bush tortured = no bin Laden. Obama didn’t = dead bin Laden.

  76. But how can you now say the big bad boy’s club is scared of her again when that same club, according to you, has already awarded her on merit? Doesn’t make sense.

    AcK! these comments, I swear, more frustrating than playing whack-a-mole.

    CB, here, hold my hand, I’ll walk you through it.

    There are hundreds (thousands?) of powerful men in Hollywood who respect, appreciate and support their female colleagues behind the camera.

    There are men in the Academy who are able to chose a woman as Best Director. (Yes, we now have proof!)
    There are legions of men outside the Academy who annually seek to influence people within the Academy.
    There are men who resent successful women and we refer to these types as members of a boy’s club.
    There are mean who embrace the success of women and those men don’t need no stinkin’ boy’s club.

    Sasha ends her piece with these words. Words that got typed out so you can read them on a screen with your own eyes:

    And here’s to testicles, too. Men who possess the best are ballsy enough to share their power.

    If you can’t sort that out, let me help. Those sentences are a tribute to men with respectable ballsacks, ok? It’s a nod of thanks and an expression of high regard to those men who carry around the kind of balls that helped propel them to the top ranks of the industry. Lo and behold, a lot of those guys Sasha is toasting are Academy members.

    You’re following me, right? You grasp that Sasha fully understands that Kathryn Bigelow won an Oscar because enough first-class male filmmakers in the Academy helped chose Bigelow as an Oscar recipient, right? You surely don’t think we believe Bigelow won without any votes from those men, do you?

    Do some of you just stop reading what Sasha writes halfway through and fly off the handle with a mad-face reaction at the first sign of anything that rubs you the wrong way? You might try reading a whole article to the very end once in a while. Because you’ll discover the complicated threads are often tied together pretty neatly in a concluding paragraph.

    Hopefully, you don’t jump up in a huff and walk out of movies if there’s a scene that ruffles your feathers. If you don’t stick around to see how the writer and director wrap things up, then you’re going to miss the whole point. Again and again.

    [I'm aware some of you get tired of me defending what Sasha writes. Please try to understand my responsibility as editor. Sasha generously invites me to take a look at much of what gets published here, to help ensure the posts hold up to the intense scrutiny we know they'll receive. We already tested this piece by talking it over. It's airtight. ]

  77. CB, totally agree. Check out Ang Lee’s previous films like Wedding Banquet and Lust Caution if you have not seen them. Yeah, I personally think Ang Lee’s Oscar win for BM is one of the very rare and daring wins of the history of Oscars, truly deserving. It is too bad BM failed to win Best Picture. It is still a shocker to me.

  78. “Allergic reaction to black films by white people continues and is so obvious and sad to witness”

    @James N

    Okay, I might get what you’re saying about general audiences. But the readers that come to this site are anything but the general audience. Sure we might bicker with one another and disagree heavily with Sasha or Ryan but we come here because we love film. I loved this film when I saw it at Sundance, and I generally liked Night Catches Us when I saw it my first year at Sundance. Not everybody can see a small film, they don’t play everywhere. I for one do not believe white people have allergic reactions to “black films” but I know why you think so. They don’t get the funding they deserve but that in no way means that white people hate those films. The majority of audiences at Sundance are white and when Middle of Nowhere ended it got a thunderous applause, when Ms. DuVernay got on stage we gave her a standing ovation. I didn’t see anybody “sneeze” when a black actor entered the frame. Again, the general audience is the general audience, that’s like trying to get someone who never studied art to tell you what Picaso’s paintings mean. I’ve been coming here for at least 8 years, way back to when it was called OscarWatch, and most of these readers are very opinionated and like to challenge one another. But under enlightened? I truly wouldn’t go that far.

  79. Hey Ryan, thanks for responding.

    I don’t see my response as mad-face reaction, and I read her entire article. I come to this site because I think Sasha’s a good writer, even when I disagree with her opinions, and most of the commenters are usually nice and understanding. I had a disagreement with someone on a DKR article, and we got along fine.

    I know Hollywood is largely a patriarchy. But this is an Academy Awards site and this article is about Bigelow winning an award, not getting a movie produced (or at least that’s the ultimate thesis that is here). And the argument people are having is about precedent. My point was clear – that she already won the award, therefore saying people are trying to tear her down for being a woman doesn’t hold much water.

    But my torture points still haven’t been addressed. I think Sasha is clearly wrong on two points.

    1. That torture is being used as an excuse to deny an award for Bigelow.

    2. That the movie tells the truth of what happened.

    Both those points are logically fallacious as I have now repeatedly proven.

  80. Chung, I actually haven’t seen those movies. I really want to see Lust, Caution. I have to be honest – I hated Life of Pi. It was good to look at (though the 3D was terrible – I thought it was shot in 3D) but the plot and plotting was dreadful. I don’t blame Lee (though I wish he’d done a better movie instead) but the script, or rather, the story.

  81. The other Mike, thanks, I am glad you understand my points!!!

  82. CB, sorry you didn’t like Life of Pi. However, Ang Lee likes to deal with “repression” in society, and how the characters manage to live through a repressed society. Lust Caution in many ways is similar to BM. Wedding Banquet also deals with repressed homosexuality against conservative and traditional social value. Check out the synopses of those films, I highly recommand them. I totally agree with you about the two wrongs of Sasha about ZDT and Bigelow.

  83. Thanks Chung!

  84. But my torture points still haven’t been addressed. I think Sasha is clearly wrong on two points.
    1. That torture is being used as an excuse to deny an award for Bigelow.
    2. That the movie tells the truth of what happened.
    Both those points are logically fallacious

    1. You’re characterizing it incorrectly. Sasha is saying that some people hope to spook some voters into shying away from ZDT because the torture aspect is too touchy. That’s just a fact.

    2. You have access to information you can share with us about The Truth? Do you have access to more information than Bigelow received? (No need to answer that if you’re undercover CIA).

    You’ve proven nothing. I know it must sound rude to be told you’re wrong, but let’s be plain and quick and not waste more time.

    This is the only misunderstanding I wanted to correct. You said:

    But how can you now say the big bad boy’s club is scared of her again when that same club, according to you, has already awarded her on merit? Doesn’t make sense.

    Wrong. The boys club that is seeking to undermine Zero Dark Thirty IS NOT “that same club that has already awarded her on merit”

    There is More Than One Club in Hollywood. Can you not understand that?

    You are the one who makes no sense. WHY would members of the Academy be seeking to muddy the water for members of the Academy? THAT doesn’t make sense.

    How in hell can the boys cub of resentful men looking for ways to discredit Bigelow be the same men Sasha admires who appreciate Bigelow enough to give her an Oscar? THAT doesn’t make sense.

    Consider this, CB. I’ll make it easy for you. Consider that you have completely misunderstood that “The Boys Club” = Men of the AMPAS. Wrong. THAT doesn’t make sense. You are wrong. You read it wrong.

    How is it rude for me say to you’re wrong when you’re wrong?

    And you think the people who have trouble with this torture in the film – the NY Times, Sen. Carl Levin, and Sen. DIANNE FEINSTEIN – are just secret agents of the Hollywood misogyny club?

    CB, How is a condescending asinine snarky remark like yours NOT rude?

    Yes, there are thousands of honorable people who have legitimate concerns about the portrayal of torture. Do you not think Sasha is aware of that? Or do you just enjoy lobbing ridiculous grenades of logical fallacy in a showboating attempt to shoot Sasha down?

    Are you truly incapable of separating Dianne Feinstein from slick Oscar strategists and grumbling bloggers who have an agenda that involves eliminating Zero Dark Thirty as a viable BP candidate by whatever means at their disposal?

    This isn’t rude. I’m being blunt. I’m sick of being patient and playful with people who stoop to such cheap potshots.

  85. Why is it at all shocking that people would find the themes you’ve described controversial? Why is it at all shocking that when a controversial film comes out people get up in arms about it and some try to smear it?

    If her goal was to show an unbiased balanced look at the situation then it only serves to reason she’ll get attacked by people on both sides of the issues.

    If Hollywood were threatened by her as a film maker they wouldn’t even dream of stiring up controversy. They know damn well that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. If they wanted to kill Zero Dark Thirty they’d immediately make another film about killing Bin Laden, market it with extreme aggression and bribe some celebrity talking heads to talk it up. That’s how hollywood deals with films they don’t like.

    Works of art that create the most controversy tend to become the most important and influential. If Bigalo’s film is just such a work (I can’t say as I’ve not seen it) then that’s a sign of the advancement of women, not people trying to keep them back. In the past female artists were marginalized by playing down their social significance, they were expected to paint quaint little water colors. Meanwhile groundbreaking and shocking images were reserved for the upper class male artists.

  86. I see some historical tensions and ironies in this conversation that go back to the time of, oh, Django Unchained and Lincoln.

    What no one yet said is that Ang Lee was the first non-white-man to win Best Director. And that was huge. And no one – no one – was a bigger champion of him than Sasha at the time.

    Now, Lee and Bigelow, the only two people ever to break into the boys’ club, might be facing off this year in BD. And it’s only predictable that their partisans would turn against each other and not against the other three. Because that’s how the game has always been rigged. White men rule, and the others fight for the scraps off of the table. See: Bloods and Crips.

    But see, women are always told to wait while the non-white-man goes first. Always. It happened with Obama and Hillary. It happened with Jackie Robinson; more specifically, it’s still happening with sports officiating (anyone remember the female umpire who almost broke out of AAA-ball?). It happened in Congress in the 1860s and 1870s. It keeps happening, and sometimes it stings. (When women are included first, like in rotary clubs, they’re expected to behave like second-class citizens.)

    Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton and many other first-wave feminists, God bless them, fought, fought, fought for blacks to have the vote, and as the film Lincoln briefly touches on, they thought that afterward, women would stand a chance at suffrage. Well good luck with that, ladies. Susan Anthony lived for another 40 years after the 13th amendment passed and never was able to realize her dream. And yes, it stung, and yes, she felt betrayed by her previous black allies in the antebellum suffrage movements.

    I’m just saying I hate seeing Chung and CB fight with Ryan here because you’re really on the same side. But you’re letting white male power win because you’re fighting over the few scraps at the table. Sad.

  87. If they wanted to kill Zero Dark Thirty they’d immediately make another film about killing Bin Laden, market it with extreme aggression and bribe some celebrity talking heads to talk it up. That’s how hollywood deals with films they don’t like.

    This is pretty big news. Would you please give us 2 or 3 examples of movies Hollywood killed by making another movie that killed the troublesome movie?

    This would make a great book when you fill us in on the names of Dead Forgotten Movies and the Movies Hollywood Immediately Made to Kill Them.

    (Why can’t I find ‘Meet Wonderful Citizen Hearst’ on DVD?)

    :?

  88. the senate intelligence comittee and dianne feinstein have stated flat out that the courier’s name was not obtained through torture. this has been documented for years

    now does the movie show that to have been the case? because boal’s protestations that it’s only a movie and not a documentary lend credence to the claim that the movie somehow shows torture as being effective, when it was not. and why did so many critics walk out with that impression as well? that is a legitimate issue. if they fudged on that for dramatic purposes, then it’s irresponsible because everyone is saying that this movie shows the “truth” of what happened. torture happened but it was not effective. if it was why was bush such an utter failure in catching the guy over his two terms? and then obama does it after outlawing torture? if the movie shows torture being effective and instrumental in catching bin laden then it is not being truthful. THAT’S the issue here. and boal’s defense that “it’s not a documentary” sure doesn’t inspire confidence that everything that happens in the movie was true. sounds like they did fudge some stuff for dramatic license, as all movies do. but to do it on this issue is particularly incendiary and gives a false impression. i don’t blame anyone for having a problem with that

  89. How could I not know there are several different clubs coming after Bigelow? Ok – name some. Please. Name some groups that have targeted her, and done so for being a woman. If I’m making generalizations, then please provide some specifics. Sasha writes that the torture issue is being used as fodder against her film because of awards that, frankly, don’t matter. No – I disagree. I think it’s great that this stuff is coming out before this movie could possibly win a ton of awards, and warp the minds of lots of American citizens when it comes to torture and history. God knows, it’s happened before. (Lily’s last post is 100% right).

  90. Unlikely Hood, another one you missed was Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman’s conversation when black men got the right to vote. He said, ‘It’s a great day for black me,’ and her replay was, ‘Yes. Black MEN.’

    I consider myself a hardcore third-wave feminist (and I am a man, as my initials don’t indicate). I supported Hillary Clinton in the 2008 primaries not just because she was most aligned with my ideals (and because Biden didn’t have a shot) and had the most experience, but because I think it’s crucial to have a pro-choice woman as the most powerful person in the world. I went to a traditionally feminist college and have read a lot of feminist theory, some of which relates to film, most of which is 20th Century American political history. I am extremely sensitive to misogyny, and I have as well-tuned a misogyny-detector as anyone with white male privilege.

    That said. Bigelow is not under fire for being a woman by men. And I don’t believe Chung was saying one precedent was equal to another. I’m happy a woman won the Oscar – frankly, the best female direction of 2009 wasn’t even Bigelow – it was Jane Campion for ‘Bright Star’ – but whatever. In this case, in this year, her movie is under fire by people who are not woman-hating film execs who can’t stomach a woman winning a gold statue. That’s silly, and that kind of argument betrays an ongoing cultural feminist movement that has legitimate complaints. And those complaints are delegitimated by genuinely passionate if ill-considered screeds like the one that started this thread.

  91. should’ve read ‘a great day for black men’ not ‘me’

  92. How could I not know there are several different clubs coming after Bigelow?

    Who said that? Can we please focus just a moment on your tendency all day to take a plain statement and reword it in your own inflated terms, so it looks like an wild exaggeration, so then you can point your accusatory finger at your own wildly exaggerated statement you’ve invented that bears no relation to what Sasha or I have said?

    Forget nuance. I’m unable to trust your facility with nuance. You jump to the wacky conclusion that “boys club” must absolutely be Sasha’a crazy senseless way of referring to All the Menfolk of AMPAS (??) or else it’s what you call the Hollywood Misogyny Club led, strangely enough, by Dianne Feinstein.

    You probably now realize how very wrong you were. But yeah, ok, it’s ME who can’t concede a point.

    Nuance? ha. I could waste more time trying to explain to you that “boys club” is not an actual “group” that holds meetings to plot strategy, but I think that would bore the other readers who understand “boys club” is a metaphor that represents a mindset — and not actually a network of groups with headquarters and membership cards and stuff.

  93. Um…you really got me there…

  94. I do find it amusing that anyone in the Hollywood establishment is suddenly so concerned with authenticity. Funny I don’t see that happening with Argo. After all the guy Ben Affleck plays was a Latino male and Ben definitely isn’t. If there is outrage then someone point me to it cause I’m not seeing it in the mainstream press.

    And really earlier this year as Sasha noted, Republicans tried to make this movie sound like a political ad for Obama so if they did take liberties to the story, I don’t blame them one bit. Of course the fact that it’s still causing controversy is still ironic.

  95. CB, you made a couple of good points that made me stop and ponder. But I’m not going to tell you what they were.
    ;-)

  96. Fair enough, man. I like the cut of your jib. But NOT the jib of your cut.

  97. Sasha, your first line suggests that anti-woman-director backlash is happening because Kathryn Bigelow might win another Oscar. Doesn’t that seem a little silly? If it really is a genuine “threat” in Best Picture, it’s because people really like it, regardless of the sex of the director. And more to the point, if she does win, it will be because a lot of out-of-touch old white men voted for her (as you so often point out).

  98. “mommy fucking the milkman” — Sasha, this kind of writing may get you noticed, but I don’t think it gets you respect.

    Hollywood is not threatened by powerful women. The industry’s top priority is to make as much money as possible; a distant second is collecting as many awards as possible. Hollywood doesn’t care about the gender or race of who accomplishes these two things.

    Yes, the largest number of movies are made about white men. Much of this has to do with historical fact. If you make a movie about a significant event or achievement in the past, the leader, inventor, painter, etc., the protagonist most likely will be a white man. In time, this will change. What mystifies me is that many of my female friends almost always let their husbands or boyfriends choose which movie to go see. These same women describe themselves as “feminists.” Insanity.

    Oscar or not, I still think that Jane Campion remains the best female director to date. This may be heresy, but I would have awarded the Oscar to her for “The Piano,” rather than to Steven Spielberg for “Schindler’s List.”

    One last thought: I want women’s aspirations to be without limit, but I recognize that men and women are different; genitals are but one part of the difference. Not every profession will be 50/50; not every hobby will be 50/50.

  99. As a friend of Ava and a Black female filmmaker, I too am angry that her beautiful film didn’t get a nod. But I wanted to let you know that ” Woman Thou Art Loosed On The 7th Day was directed by a Black woman, ME!
    The film has all Black folks above and below the line, including Black
    Producers, DP and everyone. I have battled for balanced Black female characters and all female characters for all of my 25 year career and will continue to and I stand with Ava, by her side and support her film and her dreams. But please correct your article because stating that none of the films nominated were directed by anyone Black, one was!

  100. Well, Ryan, the article is titled “Why Powerful Women Threaten Hollywood” and I noticed you didn’t address my point of what a weak argument it is to suppose Andrew Sullivan would be less troubled by an Oliver Stone movie than a Kathryn Bigelow movie depicting torture (and then using that as evidence that Hollywood is sexist towards women). Obviously, the article here is trying to assert that Ms. Bigelow has been exposed to some sort of sexism and that the sexism is affecting her chances at the Oscars. But I don’t think it’s a given that thoughtful criticism of her movie (not the events depicted in her movie but the movie itself) is necessarily due to any one critic’s sexism or desire to see her snubbed. And to suggest such to me brings up a censorship mentality that will make people afraid to criticize filmmakers for fear of being accused of being sexist or in bad faith with the criticism. To drag Andrew Sullivan into this debate about potential sexism regarding Ms. Bigelow was in really poor taste I believe and it is a sort of bullying of other writers to “shut up with their criticism.” I can’t believe that you can’t see that tactic as a little below-the-belt, Ryan. Some are probably criticizing her film in bad faith, for reasons of personal gain or jealousy, as you assert, but some may be criticizing her film out of authentic dislike of its content, which is only helpful to the debate about a film’s value. It’s not right to paint with too broad a brush in terms of Ms. Bigelow’s critics and lump them all in a “sexist” or “sexist-implied” category.

  101. Back in the day (about 1970s) there was a movement to create a “Black-owned” studio….not sure it got off the ground. I think maybe Bill Cosby and Harry Belafonte were involved…anyway, I don’t see why that cannot be done again, with women or Black Americans. It seems that’s the only way women-oriented and Black American oriented movies will be made.
    Although you could say Tyler Perry is a studio owner, but what I’m writing about is a collaborative owned STUDIO, that would hire Blacks and women. I for one am sick of the CGI, blow-em-up cartoon movies. I’m an adult and want to see adult movies. But I have to wait until frigging December to see them, and then they bunch them all together in December.

  102. I think that most of what the NAACP nominates for Image awards is bad and embarrasing. Ava DuVernay should be glad that she was overlooked. I look forward to her next excellent film.

  103. To start with, Zero Dark Thirty is now one of my favorite movies ever. It was brilliantly written, acted and directed. I felt the same way about Hurt Locker. It would get my vote for best picture, period. I serve on the board of the Sundance Institute and an advisor to a soon to be announced Women Directors Fund. The reality, REALITY, is that women filmmakers face a more challenging time raising money. Sundance has launched a women’s initiative that you will be hearing a lot more about post this years Festival. We will be releasing new research on this very topic. Stay tuned…

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