I have mixed feelings about James Cameron as a director and artist. By all accounts, he’s a nightmare employer, one of those directors who go mad with power. On the other side, he’s created some of the most indelible female protagonists in the history of film, from Ripley in Aliens (which, granted, was the sequel) to Linda Connor in Terminator and Rose in Titanic. He was also married to Kathryn Bigelow and Linda Hamilton and both marriages ended in disaster (Bigelow and Cameron are still professional friends though, and he’s often credited with nurturing her talent as a director). James Cameron is a mixed bag, basically: either he’s a bastard who does some good things, or he’s a brilliant feminist who has many a–hole qualities. Cameron has a new interview with The Guardian and man, his “hot take” on Wonder Woman and feminism has stirred up some controversy. Here are some highlights from the Guardian piece:
What he thought of Wonder Woman: “All of the self-congratulatory back-patting Hollywood’s been doing over Wonder Woman has been so misguided. She’s an objectified icon, and it’s just male Hollywood doing the same old thing! I’m not saying I didn’t like the movie but, to me, it’s a step backwards. Sarah Connor was not a beauty icon. She was strong, she was troubled, she was a terrible mother, and she earned the respect of the audience through pure grit. And to me, [the benefit of characters like Sarah] is so obvious. I mean, half the audience is female!”
Why Hollywood has a hard time creating strong female characters: “I don’t – I don’t know. There are many women in power in Hollywood and they do get to guide and shape what films get made. I think – no, I can’t account for it. Because how many times do I have to demonstrate the same thing over again? I feel like I’m shouting in a wind tunnel!”
On independent women, ex-wives: “Being attracted to strong independent women has the downside that they’re strong independent women – they inherently don’t need you! Fortunately, I’m married now to a strong independent woman who does believe she needs me.”
He’s not a Trump fan: “There’s nothing that he’s done since he took office that should surprise anyone, but it’s about as horrific as it can be. At a critical point in history when we should have been making progress, we’re going in the wrong direction. The toll in human misery in the future was going to be big anyway, and it’s now going to be greater.”
“She’s an objectified icon, and it’s just male Hollywood doing the same old thing! I’m not saying I didn’t like the movie but, to me, it’s a step backwards. Sarah Connor was not a beauty icon.” Yeah, but… why can’t a female protagonist be smart, tough, empathetic AND beautiful? By dismissing Wonder Woman as an “objectified icon,” he’s basically saying that women – in real life or on film – can’t be taken seriously if they A) care about their appearance, B) are found to be attractive and are therefore objectified by men, and C) are anything but makeup-free, gun-toting, stripped-of-femininity ballbusters. James Cameron totally mansplained feminism TO WONDER WOMAN.
A statement from Patty Jenkins:
— Patty Jenkins (@PattyJenks) August 25, 2017
Photos courtesy of WENN.