Katherine Bigelow: Hollywood's Roger Maris?

Roger Maris at the House That Ruth Built

“The protected class that “benefits” from this nonsense always has an invisible asterisk after their name that questions the true merit of their accomplishments.” — John Nolte, James Cameron On Why He Might Lose the Oscar to Katherine Bigelow: She’s a Girl

Whenever we hear the word asterisk, we think of New York Yankees slugger Roger Maris who during the 1961 season, broke Babe Ruth‘s 1927 single-season 60 home run record. Maris’ accomplishment caused some to cry foul, complaining that unless the record was broken in 154 games (the same number Ruth played in 1927), the new record would go into the record books with an asterisk beside it, because baseball’s season was now 162 games long, giving Maris an unfair advantage.

Though the season’s length wasn’t Maris’ fault, he could never celebrate and enjoy his accomplishment because the “asterisk” dogged him everywhere, in every interview. It was something he never got over.

The asterisk was never actually appended to Maris’ name in the annals of baseball history, yet it figuratively occupies its own place in the pantheon of heroes at Cooperstown. You might say the asterisk was awarded its own Oscar when 61*, a 2001 American baseball film made for HBO, directed by Billy Crystal and written by Hank Steinberg, was released on April 28, 2001.

Fast forward to James Cameron’s interview with MTV in which he says, “I would say that it’s an irresistible opportunity for the Academy to anoint a female director for the first time. I would say that that’s, you know, a very strong probability and I will be cheering when that happens.”

Is Cameron doing the same thing to his ex-wife Katherine Bigelow that was done to Roger Maris? Is Cameron inadvertently — or deliberately — attaching an asterisk to Bigelow’s name if she wins for “The Hurt Locker“? Is Cameron poisoning the well? If Bigelow is awarded an Oscar, will it be because she was the best? Or because Hollywood agreed with James Cameron that it is time to “anoint” a woman with an Oscar for Best Director?

The envelope, please. The winner of the Academy of Arts & Sciences Award for Best Director…

Katherine Bigelow*

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