Since Massachusetts blew the senatorial election to replace Ted Kennedy, I'm going to do what lots of folks do to avoid reality: focus on Hollywood. I shall now turn my attention to the next important "race" in America, which is the Oscar race.
In this contest, I support only one candidate and would like to announce my endorsement by offering the following campaign slogan:
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Kathryn Bigelow rocks.
If you don't know who she is, I dare you to watch The Hurt Locker and walk out of the movie theater without having your mind blown. Hollywood's got Nora Ephron and Nancy Meyers leading a tiny pack of female film directors, but these dames only churn out girly schlock about parenting, shopping and going gaga for guys. Kathryn Bigelow is a different animal. Some of the director's most famous films were 1987's Near Dark, a creepily dark gore fest about vampires, and Point Break, an adrenaline rush about bank-robbing surfers that became a cult classic despite the Keanu Reeves cheese factor.
But Bigelow's masterpiece is last year's The Hurt Locker, a gritty, ass-on-the-edge-of-your-seat film about the Iraq war which The New York Times promises will leave you "shaken, exhilarated and drained, but…also thinking." As a filmmaker, Kathryn Bigelow is hardcore and virile.
And yeah. She's a chick.
I get jazzed when female entertainers compete on the same turf as the big boys, only because I loathe any presumption about what art is and who should be making it; in particular, the suggestion that females can only make art for other women. Supposedly, lady art doesn't touch on universal themes or is considered light fare when compared to the hunkier expressions of men. Books by women are chick or mommy lit, while their movies are chick flicks and rom coms. In 2007, Vanity Fair god Christopher Hitchens claimed women aren't even as funny as men.
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Admittedly, there aren't many women working in or consuming mainstream culture who are disproving these theories. I don't want to believe most gals would rather write or read The Dating Detox than The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, or create or watch The Proposal instead of, well, The Hurt Locker. I wonder if women really are into fluff or whether we're conditioned to be. Are women who break the mold, like Kathryn Bigelow and, say, Tina Fey, really anomalies, or are they the only females who've had the luck to squeeze through the cultural gate? There must be gobs of talented writers, filmmakers and craftswomen who would make multi-dimensional art if they could just find their way into the mainstream...er, right?
It all came home during last Sunday's Golden Globes where I found myself comparing Bigelow's flick to the Best Picture competition. Indeed, Avatar was a gorgeous adventure, Up in the Air touching, and Inglourious Basterds a riotous good time.