OpEd Project founder and folklorist Katie Orenstein weighs in on movies and the Oscars.
Movies aren’t just entertainment. They are modern myths through which we interpret the world and tell our story. Why are we here? What is the nature of our existence? What is it all for?
When I say “our story,” of course, I don’t mean all our stories. I mean the collective story that a small number of us imagine and tell for everyone else. Very few top-budget films in Hollywood have female directors. I spoke about this with the director Catherine Hardwick (Twilight, etc.) in Delta Sky Magazine a year or two ago (excerpt here). Budgets affect the kinds of stories that can be told, and how far they travel – whether we are talking about journalism or Hollywood. Awards and attention do too – which is why I hope everyone checks out this video acknowledging the past year’s great movies directed by women who aren’t up for Oscars.
Should we care that there are no women nominated for the category of Best Director this year? I think the real question is not about the movies or the directors we may admire or recognize tonight, but about the world we can imagine, or not – that does not yet exist. And about those who mediate our collective imagination, toward that possibility. What does it mean to be excluded from the ranks of such enormous interpreters, our modern day shamans?