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.