Campion vs The Champions
While picking up her latest trophy for Best Director for her latest film ‘Power Of The Dog’ at the critics’ choice awards Australian Filmmaker Jane Campion felt the need to look out into the audience zone in on Tennis Superstars Serena and Venus Williams and let them and the audience know that though they might be “marvels” They don’t have to compete with men as Campion does. The Williams sisters were in attendance as the film based on the story of them and their father and coach ‘King Richard’ was also a nominee of the evening. The Williams Sisters are not filmmakers but the subject of one of the movies competing with Campions so why she chose to single them out and pick out this bizarre thing to say the least about them remains a mystery. What her intentions were I can’t be positive because I am not her therefore not inside her mind. I can say that to the majority of black people the comments came off as insulting, egomaniacal and maybe even racist. I don’t know if Campion is a racist or not, so I don’t want to sling too heavy of an accusation of racism her way. I would actually like to dissect other issues inside her comments. Beginning with her assumption that she is somehow on the same level of success in Film as The Williams Sisters are in Women’s Tennis. Of The Williams sisters Serena has made $94,518,971 in prize money as of November 2021, which makes her the first rank in all-time earnings. Venus Williams, is second with $42,280,541 earned. Venus has won 49 singles titles over the course of her career, and Serena has won 73. The Williams sisters are the only two women during the Open Era to contest four consecutive Grand Slam finals: from the 2002 French Open to the 2003 Australian Open. Serena won all four of these finals. Not only would be ridiculous to put Jane Campion at the level of these two prime atheltes It would even be stretching quite a bit to refer to Jane Campion as at the top of field at all. She’s mostly been an independent Director making low budget movies that do well financially as low budget movies go. But she’s hardly Martin Scorsese or Stephen Spielberg if she’s competing with men then she isn’t winning despite picking up a few awards. Her movie ‘The Piano’ was probably her biggest success financially and critically until ‘Power Of The Dog’. Released in 1992 The Piano was a surprise hit and critical darling that year. The movie cost $7 Million and made a little over $40 million. She won the Academy Award for best screenplay and was nominated for Best Director while winning multiple awards throughout that year prior to the Oscars as well. ‘Portrait of a Lady’ cost $35 Million dollars and made $3,692,836 Million dollars that is a flat-out bomb. The movie was nominated for multiple awards including Oscars but a financial success it was not. It was a bomb. As was her next picture Holy Smoke which cost $15 Million and made under $2 million. Her 2003 endeavor ‘In the Cut’ had a small budget of $12 million dollars and grossed under $ 5 million in The United States and Canada and made under $24 million worldwide turning a small profit but Jane Campion’s career hasn’t exactly produced blockbuster numbers. ‘In The Cut’ also gave Campion possibly the worst reviews of her career. The movie was panned and even destroyed by many top critics. It didn’t win any major awards nor was it nominated for any major awards. Personally, I don’t judge any filmmaker’s worth by awards or box office, but I have to use the rules Campion has now laid forth in comparing herself to two top athletes in their field and not in any way as I see it does she measure up as anywhere close. Which brings me to why she would ensue in such a crazy amount of level jumping by putting herself not just up there with but above two of the best pro athletes that have ever lived in terms of wins and salaries and endorsement money. What Jane Campion seems to forget is that while she competes with Men she also competes with women because there are other women directors in Hollywood. It’s astonishing that Campion seems to if not forget this does not acknowledge it. She isn’t even the most successful woman filmmaker. Not in Box Office receipts anyway. We also must remember the assistance that Campion has received over the course of her movie making career. The Piano was a low budget Australian movie and likely never would have garnered the attention it did had the film not been picked up by Miramax Films to be the movie’s American distributer. Miramax ran by Harvey and Bob Weinstein were infamous for selling the movies they produced or purchased to distribute almost like the mob sells crime. They pumped a lot of money into print and tv ads as they spent hours, days, weeks, and months on the phone and taking meetings with distributers, journalists and film critics even being accused of paying film critics and evening threatening them to release positive reviews of their films. By the logic that other filmmakers have to compete with Jane Campion those filmmakers include black, Indian, Hispanic filmmakers who haven’t been given the opportunities provided to white filmmakers even women. For as little as white women have been given chances to direct in Hollywood compared to white men black women have been given even much less. Asian women, Indian women, Hispanic women. Take for instance African American Female Director Julie Dash who received her highest acclaim for the 1991 film, Daughters of the Dust, an original story, and screenplay. The release of the film marked Dash as the first African American woman to have a full-length general theatrical release in the United States. The film takes place at the dawn of the 20th century, about a family in the Gullah community of coastal South Carolina. Former West African slaves who adopted many of their ancestors’ Yoruba traditions. This is not a film the Bob and Harvey Weinstein’s pick up and try their darndest to sell. Campion has an edge as her films are exclusively about white people for a white audience. Dash and other women of color who direct have been left out of the party white female directors were allowed to have. It doesn’t make what Campion is doing this year not impressive and important to female filmmakers. This year Campion is winning almost ever major award for directing and for her screenplay of ‘Power of The Dog’ and she is thought to be a shoe in for her First Oscar as Best Director. How this Williams sister’s snafu will affect those chances is anybody’s guess. If I know the Academy Award voters and I do pretty well it can actually only help her chances of winning. I sincerely doubt they’ll be any negative effect from this incident for her chase to pick up awards. Movies that pick up a lot of awards before the Oscars don’t always do that well at the Oscars often losing steam by the time blast off takes place. If anything, this incident will keep Campion’s name and movie in the news cycle for a little bit longer and the buzz and talk around the movie will only increase and help her chances. Also, Since the movie is available on Netflix more academy voters can actually see the movie to where in years past, they didn’t make it to the theater to watch many of the Oscar nominees. And the talk around the critic’s choice incident will drive more to see the movie. What Campion has accomplished and is accomplishing is impressive and it could help female directors gain more footing in the male dominated Director’s chair. But does Campion know this or even care? Is she doing this to help uplift other women or to rub it in their faces that she’s the one getting to be one of the boys?