Teaching Moments

     February 22 suddenly seems light years away even tho it’s barely been 6 months.  When I wrote my “Declare Victory & Move On” post on Monday AM (the morning after the Oscars), I told myself: “Let’s let the dust settle for a bit before writing a more formal ‘Lessons Learned’ piece.”  Then Barack Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor to fill Justice Souter’s seat on the Supreme Court, & I said to myself: “Mmmm.  Maybe I should wait just a bit longer?”  Then on Thursday night, as I watched Monica Crowley subbing for Bill O’Reilly in his “No Spin Zone,” I fell headlong into one of my periodic ‘What’s the use?’ funks.

      I can hear it now: some of you are thinking I need to shut up about THE HURT LOCKER because calling attention to it by urging women to go might actually do more harm than good.  And you know what: maybe you’re right…

       It seems lots & lots of people aren’t swayed by historical analysis, statistics, or anything I might consider “rational.”  So maybe I am wrong.  Maybe we do live in a “zero sum” world.  Maybe the smart thing to do is cling to any & all personal advantage we might have as individuals, & refuse to open our minds to anything that might equalize the playing field.

      At one particular ugly point in “my SLUMDOG Brouhaha,” one of my colleagues in the Chicago Film Critics Association told me in so many words that if I kept sending messages on the topic, he would personally impose “a Final Solution.”  (Yes, he knows I’m Jewish, & he deliberately used those very words to stun me into silence.)  But unlike Sonia Sotomayor (& perhaps Loveleen Tandan too), I never learned how to back down, lay low, etc.   I’m at a point in my life now when nothing can control me except my own conscience, so I guess I’ll just “keep on keepin’ on,” in the hopes that some of the things I write will help create positive change somewhere down the line.

      For the record, I do NOT believe Kathryn Bigelow should be nominated for an Oscar “because she’s a woman;” I believe she should be nominated for an Oscar because she’s already made several terrific films & THE HURT LOCKER is her best yet.

      But I also believe that many other women have made wonderful films in the past & they’ve all been overlooked in years when much weaker films made by male filmmakers have been over-hyped & over-rewarded.  So yes, I truly believe that Kathryn Bigelow will have a better chance of being nominated if we keep the pressure up & keep reminding people about current Oscar stats.

     So readers, remember these two numbers:  Less than 1% of all Best Director nominees in Oscar history have been women (3/406 = .74%), & no woman (ZERO) in history has ever won a Best Director Oscar.  What can justify these two facts?  Oh yes, I know: Given half a chance, some people will find an excuse for every conceivable injustice, but at a certain point, yes, even this barrier will fall.  And then fair-minded people everywhere will wonder why it was ever there in the first place… 

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