Awards Daily points us to an interview with author Brit Easton Ellis (author of such incomparable pieces of literature as Less than Zero, American Psycho and The Rules of Attraction), who claims that Andrea Arnold’s critically acclaimed Fish Tank made him rethink his dinosaur mentality that “women can’t direct” … and then promptly repeats the sexist maxim, over and over.
For the most part, I’m not totally convinced, [except for] Andrea Arnold, Kathryn Bigelow, Sofia Coppola…
Not Mary Harron?
Mary Harron to a degree. There’s something about the medium of film itself that I think requires the male gaze. We’re watching, and we’re aroused by looking, whereas I don’t think women respond that way to films, just because of how they’re built.
You don’t think they have an overt level of arousal?
[They have one] that’s not so stimulated by the visual. I think, to a degree, all the women I named aren’t particularly visual directors. You could argue that Lost in Translation is beautiful, but is that [cinematographer Lance Acord]? I don’t know. Regardless of the business aspect of things, is there a reason that there isn’t a female Hitchcock or a female Scorsese or a female Spielberg? I don’t know. I think it’s a medium that really is built for the male gaze and for a male sensibility. I mean, the best art is made under not an indifference to, but a neutrality [toward] the kind of emotionalism that I think can be a trap for women directors. But I have to get over it, you’re right, because so far this year, two of my favorite movies were made by women, Fish Tank and The Runaways. I’ve got to start rethinking that, although I have to say that a lot of the big studio movies I saw last year that were directed by women were far worse than the sh***y big-budget studio movies that were directed by men.
Which are we talking about?
I mean, do I want to say this on the record? Did you see The Proposal? Anyway, whatever.
Hoo boy, where to start.
How about with Ellis’ dismissal of Mary Harron, whose film adaptation of American Psycho was infinitely superior to the novel?
How about with the implication that when a male director makes a beautiful film, he can take all the credit, but when it’s, say, Sofia Coppola, it’s all the cinematographer. I mean, you can certainly have a debate over the authorship of film, but that has absolutely nothing to do with the director’s sex.
How about with the further implication that The Proposal was a thousand times worse than, say, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen? Hell, I had no desire to see The Proposal, but what is this shit?
How about the idea that all women directors, and ONLY women directors get caught up in “emotionality” when making their films? Go watch all of Jane Campion’s films. OK, now go watch all of Steven Spielberg’s films. Tell me which one you think gets more “trapped in emotionality.”
When you say something like “women can’t direct,” and immediately have the qualify that statement with 3 of the best directors working today, plus your two favorite films of the year so far, and THEN follow up all your major misogynist points with “I don’t know” or “whatever,” guess what? Not only are you a crock of shit, you’re a spineless crock of shit.
Of course, the real problem here is that Ellis isn’t even really talking about film. Read all that stuff about “being aroused by looking.” You know what I think the problem? Somebody’s not getting any. Somebody’s frustrated that women aren’t getting “aroused” by the same things as him. Well, Bret, next time you’re trying to justify why you struck out with that chick last night by saying “we’re aroused by looking,” please make sure you define that “we” as weaselly sexist troglodytes.