Rant: Catherine Hardwicke Was Fired Because She's A Woman

By Katey Rich 2008-12-08 13:27:13discussion comments
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I'm no Twilight fanatic, but I too am outraged that Catherine Hardwicke has been tossed out for sequel New Moon. Set aside the fact that she trimmed the overlong book into two mostly watchable hours, or that she was the one who cast Robert Pattinson, the face that launched 1,000 teenage crushes. Catherine Hardwicke was fired because she's a woman, and that's bullshit.

Official explanations abound, from Hardwicke having a different vision for the screenplay to Summit's official explanation that it doesn't fit into her timeline. But you've got to look into the language used by Nikki Finke's "inside source" to find the real story. Hardwicke is described as "difficult" and "irrational," and her female agent is tagged as "alternately ineffectual and hysterical."

Those are just four of the words are constantly used to denigrate women in power, reducing them to the stereotype of the helpless, flighty, overemotional victim who doesn't know what to do with control when she gets it. It's one of the many stereotypes that keeps women out of the director's chair, and even Hardwicke, who had the biggest opening weekend ever for a female director, is being taken down a peg as punishment for her success.

No, I mean it. Hardwicke has told fans repeatedly that she wants a bigger budget for New Moon, in order to improve on the pitiful special effects featured in Twilight. Presumably having been hired for peanuts, along with her two leads, you can bet she wanted a raise for the next go-round. But instead of being rewarded for turning in a hit, Hardwicke was canned in favor of a cheaper alternative-- and I just don't think that would have happened if she, or her fanbase, were male.

Most of the biggest franchises of this decade have been kicked off by a director who was practically a nobody before he (always a he) started. Bryan Singer had just come off Apt Pupil when the first X-Men movie came together. Sam Raimi made a Kevin Costner baseball movie right before he started work on Spider-Man. Jon Favreau, whose previous movie was the sci-fi flop Zathura, was the first one signed back on for Iron Man 2. All of these franchises succeeded, or hopefully will succeed, because they held on to the visionary who started them, who built up from a loyal fanbase to create an across-the-board hit. We all saw what happened with the X-Men franchise when they broke this rule.

Hardwicke is no exception. Twilight has made $140 million-- that's a lot more than just screaming tweens going to see this movie. An adaptation of a novel told entirely from the point of view of a teenage girl, Twilight is an across the board hit, and Hardwicke-- not Stephenie Meyer's book-- is the reason for it.

When a director is a success, they get to make demands-- they deserve more money, more control, more anything, because they're the ones who brought in the cash to begin with. But Hardwicke clearly isn't worthy-- she's just too irrational and difficult, y'know, and just think of how bad she'll be when it's her time of the month!

Fuck you, Summit, for thinking a female director should simply bend over and take your demands when she-- and the rest of us-- knows she's got more leverage than that. You've got one of the first female-driven franchises in history, with a female writer, director, screenwriter, and star, and the way you're tinkering with it belies an ugly, ugly assumption at the heart of your filmmaking process-- that women can be bossed around. Young women are your bread and butter right now, and if they know what's good for themselves and their future, they won't take this sitting down.
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