The swift-boating of "The Hurt Locker?"

Not to already start making excuses for my yet to be published Oscar predictions, but the knives are out for Kathryn Bigelow and "The Hurt Locker." First of all is the "gotcha" campaign against Nicolas Chartier, one of the film's four producers, who sent an e-mail urging Academy members to vote for "Locker" and not for a "$500 million film," an apparent reference to "Avatar." Making negative comparisons to the competition is against the Academy's rules, but "discipline" for Chartier will wait until after the awards voting is closed on Tuesday. What the damage might be to the film's Oscar prospects already, though, are unknown. Probably not much. Most will likely dismiss it as a rookie mistake, without insidious intent and uncalculated.

The more cynical might say that Chartier has a lot to learn from the long-time champion of Oscar campaign dirty fighting, Harvey Weinstein. Chartier and company might have been getting a taste of them lately in what some interpret as a covert Weinstein strategy to bludgeon his "Inglourious Basterds" to victory. Recently in "Newsweek," the "L. A. Times," and the "Associated Press" Iraq Vets have been submitting articles and comments to the effect that "The Hurt Locker" is not only inaccurate but disrespectful. S.T. VanAirsdale in "Movieline" finds the timing of all this suspicious. In a commentary entitled "Are Hurt Locker Foes Using Troops to Take Down the Oscar Front-Runner?" he writes: "I'm not about to second-guess anyone in Iraq. But I'll totally second-guess the editors who seem to have left the "Additional reporting by Harvey Weinstein in Baghdad"

Okay, at least Bigelow has the support of those who see her success as a giant leap forward for women in Hollywood. Maybe not, if Martha P. Nochimson has her say in a "Salon" screed entitled "Kathryn Bigelow: Feminist pioneer or tough guy in drag?" In it she counters those who claim that Bigelow's masterpiece has broadened opportunities for women directors in Hollywood, that she's demonstrated that women can excel in the male dominated genres such as the war film and don't have to settle for making shitty misogynist rom-coms. Not so, says Nochimson. Bigelow is just trying to score points playing the boy's game.

In perhaps the most wrong-headed analysis of the film I have yet to read, she totally misses the point of Bigelow's depiction of Jeremy Renner character's compulsion for danger and war. She claims that the film endorses his adrenalin addiction, his incapacity for emotional relationships, and his total alienation from normal society. In fact, to all but the ideologically blinded and emotionally obtuse, it reveals it to be heartbreakingly tragic. Hey, maybe Renner's equally charismatic performance in "Dahmer" (2002) advocates serial killing, necrophilia, and cannibalism as well?

"Looks to me like she's [Bigelow's] masquerading as the baddest boy on the block to win the respect of an industry still so hobbled by gender-specific tunnel vision that it has trouble admiring anything but filmmaking soaked in a reduced notion of masculinity," she writes. Looks to me like Nochimson is auditioning to be "Salon""s new Camille Paglia. Sheesh. With feminists like that, who needs macho shitheads?

So much for avoiding the frustrations of what's going on in the real world of politics with the escapism of entertainment. I guess obfuscation, distortion, hypocrisy and deceit aren't just limited to negotiations on health care reform.

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