While I understand that some in the military have been critical of the Oscar-winning movie The Hurt Locker, I come away from that film ever in awe of the work that men in uniform have done throughout the years, whether it be Spartans holding the pass at Thermopylae so that the remaining Greek armies and navies had time to regroup or those navies and armies which fought in the battles of Salamis and Plataea respectively, conflicts that would have been decided before they were fought had Leonidas not held out as long as he had.
The men in Hurt Locker held out as best they could under very difficult circumstances and one at least Jeremy Renner‘s William James didn’t give up until the job was done, the bomb defused and lives saved. He failed only once, but even then, he kept trying until his time ran out. And a woman directed them, showing a greater appreciation for the meaning of manhood than perhaps anyone (I’ve encountered) since Norah Vincent wrote of her life as a man in Self-Made Man.
To some degree, Kathryn Bigelow was like the goddess Athena who spurred men on in their martial endeavors. Each female appreciated the man of action’s struggle and wanted to see him through to completion, either victory in battle or accomplishment of the task at hand. Wherever, wrote scholar Walter F. Otto, “in a life of action and heroism great things must be wrought, perfected and struggled for, there Athena is present.”
Just as Bigelow celebrated the type of heroes Athena honored and assisted, so did Sandra Bullock‘s Leigh Anne Tuohy provided guidance to a young man in need of direction just as did the owl-eyed Olympian. As she helped Perseus and Telemachus, she also taught Bellerophon to master the winged steed Pegasus, much as Mrs. Tuohy helped Michael Oher learn to to master his own strength and put it to good use.
In short, this year, the Academy honored two women who appreciated the best in the other sex. That while fully conscious–and totally unashamed of their own femininity–they valued, cultivated even, sterling masculine qualities. As did the goddess Athena.
It is striking that the first woman to win an Oscar for her achievement in directing did so while celebrating the most masculine of activities. A lesson for those women who see the path to success in Hollywood through through denigrating men and belittling our nature.