Manohla Dargis cusses out Hollywood

The New York Times film critic has a few choice words for an industry that neglects 51 percent of its audience

Published December 15, 2009 3:16PM (EST)

Our quote of the day comes from New York Times film critic Manohla Dargis, in an interview with Jezebel, "on why so many romantic comedies are so terrible":

One, the people making them have no fucking taste, two, they're morons, three they're insulting panderers who think they're making movies for the great unwashed and that's what they want. I love romantic movies. I absolutely do. But I literally don't know what's happening. I think it's depressing that Judd Apatow makes the best romantic comedies and they're about men. All power to Apatow, but he's taken and repurposed one of the few genres historically made for women... We had so few [genres] that were made specifically for the female audience and now the best of them are being made by Judd Apatow.

Don't even get her started on how women are faring in other genres. The Jezebel interview is a candid and delightfully potty-mouthed follow-up to Dargis's recent Times piece on women in film, in which she breaks the depressing news that, despite all the hype about movies made by women in 2009, "the closer you look at the list of female filmmakers from this year, and the more you separate the breathless hype about the better-known 'femme-driven pics,' to use a favorite Variety locution, the worse the numbers get." It's almost enough to make you want to buy an opening-weekend ticket to any movie directed or produced by a woman, just to counter the enduring perception in Hollywood that such films don't make enough money to be worthwhile (and if they do, they're flukes). Almost. "Sometimes I think what women should do what various black and gay audiences have done, which is support women making movies for women," Dargis told Jezebel. "So does that mean I have to go support Nora Ephron? Fuck no. That's just like, blech."

Today did bring a bit of good news, though. The Golden Globe nominations were announced, and women made a pretty good showing. Kathryn Bigelow was nominated for best director, and her "The Hurt Locker" is up for best drama. "Julie and Julia" and "It's Complicated" are both contenders for best musical or comedy. Sandra Bullock was nominated twice, for best actress in both a drama and a musical/comedy, and Meryl Streep is also competing against herself in the latter category -- which only has one woman under 40. "Precious" got a best picture nod and best actress and supporting actress nominations for Gabourey Sidibe and Mo'Nique, respectively. Is all this a sign of progress? Well, as Dargis said in the Jez interiew, "It's pretty shitty right now. Anything positive can only help a little bit. How's that for optimism?"

By Kate Harding

Kate Harding is the author of Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture--and What We Can Do About It, available from Da Capo Press in August 2015. Previously, she collaborated with Anna Holmes, Amanda Hess, and a cast of thousands on The Book of Jezebel, and with Marianne Kirby on Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere. You might also remember her as the founding editor of Shapely Prose (2007-2010). Kate's essays have appeared in the anthologies Madonna & Me, Yes Means Yes, Feed Me, and Airmail: Women of Letters. She holds an M.F.A. in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a B.A. in English from University of Toronto, and is currently at work on a Ph.D. in creative writing from Bath Spa University

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