In Defense of Diablo Cody
Much as I had mixed feelings about the film Juno, I just don't understand the massive public hate-on for its screenwriter, Diablo Cody. Okay, she gave herself a stupid pen name. Juno had a couple of overly precious, cringeworthy lines of dialogue. Does that really warrant parodies like these?
Simply put, this shit is sexist. Cody wrote a memoir about stripping, which led to a chance to write a screenplay, which led to a film that was an unexpected smash, which led to a boatload of accolades and media profiles, and will quite possibly culminate with an Oscar for said screenplay this Sunday night. But according to scores of cranks on the interwebs, apparently she did so much more than that, including not actually write the script herself, do lots of press for the film, and not be all that hot. I know! How dare she?
But you know who else has written indie movies with unlikely dialogue and characterizations, been endlessly hyped by the media, and found huge success? Quentin Tarantino. Wes Anderson. Noah Baumbach. Mike White. You know who else made a filmic cutefest with a quirktastic soundtrack? Zach Braff. And you know who hasn't been accused of not writing their own scripts or coasting on their looks? Those five dudes. Yes, Anderson's been accused of being a one-trick pony, and Tarantino of being shamelessly derivative, but both are nonetheless respected filmmakers, and neither has faced the kind of vitriol leveled at Cody. Futhermore, Juno's director, Jason Reitman, is the son of one of Hollywood's most successful producers and directors. Have we heard a peep about how his success is ill-gotten or not-quite-deserved? A few of the haters have copped to the fact that it's their own frustrated-writerness and subsequent seething jealousy that drives them to slag Cody. But do they really think that it's all down to Cody's brief career on the pole that she's the new new thing in screenwriting? If that's the case, after all, then wouldn't we have already seen hit movies from the likes of Lily Burana, Heidi Mattson, N. Kathryn Howard, and the many other women who have either dabbled in or made careers out of stripping? Could it be that in addition to having a juicy backstory and a media-friendly presence, Cody is actually a good screenwriter that people want to work with?
This all said, it is kind of a shame that Cody's media magnetism has inadvertently overshadowed a real milestone of this year's Oscars — namely, that four women were nominated for Best Screenplay awards, three of them (including Cody) in the Best Original Screenplay category. As opposed to the age-old story of a sucessful woman who's dumped on for the perceived crimes of doing her job well and also being kind of cute, four single-credit Best Screenplay nominations for women in the sausage party that is professional screenwriting really is news.
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