Monday, March 08, 2010

James Cameron: just another butt-kicking Canuck

All of Hollywood seethes at kid from . . . Kapuskasing?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad Kathryn Bigelow won the Oscar for directing. Though I’m relieved she won only two Oscars: because had she won a third I’m afraid she would be thanking toll-booth attendants and airport security officers in her speech. And I am amazed that Barbra Streisand agreed to hand out the directing award, after the academy ostentatiously declined to nominate her for directing Prince of Tides years ago. (Who knew Babs was so forgiving?)

But I must admit to being tickled (though baffled) for some weeks now at the low-level hatred Hollywood seems to have for James Cameron, the director who spent his formative years in Kapuskasing and Niagara Falls (the good side).

It’s an odd hatred, because if there’s one thing Hollywood loves above all else, it’s financial success. Cameron has directed two of the highest-grossing films of all time, Titanic and Avatar.

Even if you are hooked on drugs, cheating on your wife and mistress at the same time, and a lousy parent, no matter: so long as you deliver at the box office – and can be insured – you will keep getting hired in Hollywood.

But it seemed to me last night that every time an Avatar nomination was announced, or the camera alit on its director James Cameron, there was a certain hostile quiet, a froideur, if you will, in the Kodak Theater.

Why is Cameron despised? Because he’s divorced four wives? I doubt it. Or maybe it’s because he’s an unrepentant, demanding a**hole on set, and because actors seem secondary or even tertiary in his films. But is Cameron the first SOB to fart in a director’s chair? Are the makers of animated films despised like Cameron is? Don’t think so.

Even if the reasons made sense, I’m not sure I would ever get over the fact that a kid from Northern Ontario can become the object of such resentment in one of the most competitive and wealthy industries in the world. Do you know what the main economic activities of Northern Ontario are? Scraping minerals out of the ground, cutting down then grinding up trees, and tourism centered around guns and fishing rods. Oh – and government.

Almost a century ago, the most successful Canadian in Hollywood was Mary Pickford, America’s sweetheart (born in Toronto). Today, it is James Cameron. I don’t quite get it: but I’m still tickled.


Spin Assassin said...

He's going to make a trilogy. Hurt locker is a one shot deal. With Lord of the Rings they waited for the last movie to give out best picture. Its going to be the same with Avatar.
The Academy is kind of like a Union. The best picture is not necessarily the best but most deserving for whatever point they want to make. Cameron will have to wait his turn. No mystery.
Personally I think Cameron is an evil genius. I like most of his movies even if there is a flawed ideology under it. He's like Albert Speer. Gifted but wrong.

Anonymous said...

After Titanic was released and became a huge hit the City of Niagara Falls invited James Cameron to his (second) hometown to bestow numerous honours on him.

After he dedicated a plaque in his honour he was paraded to the local Lion's Park in Chippawa where he was lauded by the mayor and assorted politicians before being let loose to sign autographs for the hundreds of locals on hand.

The line-up was so long that I stepped aside and took my youngest daughter shopping for groceries instead.

An hour and a half later we were driving back into Chippawa and decided to drive by the Lion's Park just to see how big a mess the crowd had made and I was astonished to find practically nobody there except James Cameron signing autographs for the last people in what had been a very long line.

I parked my van and hurried over to the stage area and got what was probably the last signature of the day.

I went from there to the local corner store for a newspaper and lo and behold, along comes James Cameron standing up in the back of his stretch limo with the roof open and video taping the street as he drove towards his old house just a couple of blocks away.

I've since lost the autograph but I have to hand it to the guy for making himself available for so long to so many people that day at a time when he was King Of the World.

Joan Tintor said...

I remember the to-do in Niagara. Thanks for the story!

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised the Academy invited Barbara after her no-show one year when she was supposed to sing. Celine Dion had to sing two songs that night to take her place.

Maybe Avatar didn't win because of the new voting system.

Frunger said...

He's disliked in Hollywood for the same reason I dislike the guy. He can't stop talking about how great he is.

His movies are good, I've liked almost every one of them, and loved a few.

Nobody wanted to see him get up there on stage and get high on his own flatulence.

You're allowed to be a prick to work with, and an uncompromising perfectionist j-hole behind the camera. The financial sucess doesn't hurt either, but nobody likes an arrogant jerk when he's accepting an award. Show some humility, give props to the losers and accept graciously.

Cameron doesn't do that, and most voters don't feel bad about snubbing him.

Plus, Hurt Locker was a fantastic film, and deserved all the praise it got.