February 25, 2008

Should Women be Happy With the Recognition We Got at This Year's Oscars?

Hell, no. Let's not paint too rosy a picture on the nomination of three women in the original screenplay category (but it does say we are more original thinkers), and one woman in the adapted category.

An AP pre-Oscar piece takes a look at the writing nominees (sadly it is a record)

Some quotes:

To "Juno" screenwriter Diablo Cody, the attention she and three other women are getting for their Academy Award nominations in the typically male-dominated screenwriting categories is "kind of a double edged-sword."

"You don't want to be singled out as a woman," she says. "On the other end, as a feminist, and someone who feels that women are marginalized in this industry, I'm thrilled that women are getting this sort of recognition."

"We're given this chance to promote fresh representations of women. For me, my thought is if I wrote a movie, I'm not going to fill my movie with stock girlfriend characters. I'm going to write about a girl who wears hoodies and likes the Stooges (punk band)."

All the writers lament the lack of women in the directing category, reflecting a dearth of female directors in general; only three women have been nominated for a directing trophy in Oscar history: Lina Wertmuller, Jane Campion and Sofia Coppola.

Could sexism be considered a factor?

"Call me an idealist, but I don't think so," says Bruce Davis, the academy's executive director, who acknowledges that academy voters are mostly men. "To get nominated as a writer and director, you have to impress other writers and directors. These groups -- I meet with them all the time -- they are about as unprejudiced of a constituency that you can think of."

I have to laugh. Writers and Directors in Hollywood unprejudiced. Sure.

But discrimination remains a fact for women in Hollywood, from Cody noting that some film critics have criticized her own body in their reviews of "Juno" to Polley bemoaning that women are "still obligated" to sell their sexuality with their careers.

"The way we're raised up, girls are raised in a different way -- that they have to be cute and sweet. But you don't have to be cute and sweet," says Satrapi, who once fired a male employee who refused to listen to her.

And, says Cody, "Women tend to be crippled by what they believe is their own incompetence."

"We need to do it like men, charge it like a bull, no matter if it's bad," says the writer, who first gained media attention for penning a book about her stint as a stripper.

"I've gotten an excessive amount of attention because I have that cheesy back story," she says, sighing. "It's really a lot of bells and whistles. We're really all just sedentary geeks, who love to write."

I am again impressed by Cody and Polley. Both of them are of a younger generation and are really speaking truth to power. We need to figure out a way to support and nurture both these women's visions because they are truly unique.

Full story: Women Writers Make Strides in Oscar Nominations (AP via Seattle PI)