Director Jane Campion was flying high Sunday night. She’d been flying high for a while, actually. While the New Zealand director hadn’t made a film that had been a critical triumph since 1993’s “The Piano,” she’d made a triumphant comeback with “The Power of the Dog,” a woke revisionist Western.
But more than that, she’d become a sort of “YASS QUEEN” woke heroine by verbally chastising Sam Elliott — the veteran cowboy actor who questioned the value of “The Power of the Dog,” saying he didn’t like the blatant homoeroticism or the Kiwi’s take on the American West.
“I’m sorry, he was being a little bit of a b****,” Campion told Variety on Saturday.
“He’s not a cowboy; he’s an actor,” she said regarding Elliott, known for his roles in Westerns such as “Tombstone” and “1883” as well as films such as “The Big Lebowski.”
“The West is a mythic space and there’s a lot of room on the range,” Campion said. “I think it’s a little bit sexist.”
Intersectional heroine! Girlboss! As awards season approaches, that takedown is bound to win her a few trophies.
Or rather, it was.
On Sunday, just one day later, she made a comment about tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams that her lefty cheering section didn’t like — and now they’re going after Campion with the same fervor with which they chased Elliott.
(We’ve chronicled this process before here at The Western Journal — how the left eats its own. We’ll continue to document it, if just to prove that cancel culture holds people to an impossible moral standard. You can help us in our fight against wokeness by subscribing.)
The moment in question came as Campion accepted her award for best director at the Critics Choice Awards.
All of the people she was competing against in her category were men. During her acceptance speech, she pointed this out and then turned to the Williams sisters, who were there in support of a biopic about their father, “King Richard.”
“You know, Serena and Venus, you are such marvels,” she said. “However, you do not play against the guys like I have to.”
While the audience applauded, the camera showed Venus Williams sporting a pained smile.
Here's the clip of Jane Campion's speech#CriticsChoiceAwards pic.twitter.com/pucAsmE2JF
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) March 14, 2022
Oopsie daisy. It wasn’t long before the Twitter blue checkmark brigade made it clear they were Not Happy™ with Campion.
“Many people expressed how unnecessary it was for Campion, a White woman, to compare her experiences of sexism with the uphill battles fought by the Williams sisters, two Black women who have faced unrelenting racism and sexism while working toward remarkable levels of success in tennis, a White-dominated sport,” Sonia Rao of The Washington Post noted.
Jane Campion, daughter of famous New Zealand theatre director Richard Campion & actress Edith Campion MBE, explains the challenges of being a white woman from an established family to Venus and Serena Williams. https://t.co/7IhXlrNIBw
— Megha Mohan (@meghamohan) March 14, 2022
The arrogance and ignorance of Jane Campion. Anyone who knows anything about Venus and Serena's careers wouldn't think to utter something this stupid and insulting. https://t.co/SljZ0smqR6
— Gene Farris (@gpfarris) March 14, 2022
That Jane Campion whiplash is a perfect distillation of white feminism.
— Saeed Jones (@theferocity) March 14, 2022
And that’s just a few. Guess how long it took Campion to grovel for her doubleplusungood wrongthink? If you had Monday afternoon in the office pool, good work!
“I made a thoughtless comment equating what I do in the film world with all that Serena Williams and Venus Williams have achieved,” the director said in a statement.
“I did not intend to devalue these two legendary Black women and world class athletes. The fact is the Williams sisters have, actually, squared off against men on the court (and off), and they have both raised the bar and opened doors for what is possible for women in this world. The last thing I would ever want to do is minimize remarkable women.”
In fact, there was no minimization going on there, and anybody who wasn’t rage-tweeting the Critics Choice Awards live (who does that, anyway?) probably saw this later and didn’t think anything of it. It was a comment about how Hollywood is still a boys club and how hard it is to compete against institutional sexism.
At least it was a joke, however. To be funny nowadays is to run the risk of being offensive, no matter what the subject matter is. Why did the chicken cross the road? Ableist privilege. I don’t get why you even you’d think that’s something to laugh about.
Say what you will about Elliott, whose cheerfully vulgar rant on Marc Maron’s podcast touched this kerfuffle off, but at least he was a) funny and b) unapologetic.
Take his remarks, via the Daily Caller, on Campion being the latest director making a sociopolitical point using a Western as her revisionist canvas: “What the f*** does this woman … she’s a brilliant director, by the way, I love her work, her previous work, but what the f*** does this woman from down there [New Zealand] know about the American West? And why in the f*** did she shoot this movie in New Zealand and call it Montana?”
On the homoerotic subtext (or, well, mostly just text): “I mean, [Benedict] Cumberbatch never got out of his f***ing chaps. He had two pairs of chaps: a woolly pair and a leather pair, and every f***ing time he would walk in from somewhere, I don’t know where,” Elliott said.
“He was never on a horse, maybe once, he’d walk into the f***ng house, storm up the f***ing stairs, go lay in his bed in his chaps and play his banjo. It’s like, what the f***?”
That’s all more entertaining than the movie or Campion’s offensive joke.
It wasn’t quite as entertaining as watching the director get eaten by her own crowd one day after thinking she owned Elliott, however.
Who said Hollywood didn’t make trenchant satire or happy endings anymore?