HOOTS! Perspective and Depth.

In the February 2 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Carrie Rickey writes a “Critic’s Notebook” column about the director Kathryn Bigelow, her award for best-directed feature film for The Hurt Locker, and the prospects for and recent experience of female directors in Hollywood. The peg was the nominations for this year’s Academy Awards, which were announced on February 2 as well. Bigelow was nominated for Best Director, but because of print deadlines, that had to be treated speculatively.

Rickey does a good job of providing some history and context for female directors in the movie industry. After establishing their rare success with regards to awards – Bigelow is only the fourth woman nominated for Best Director by the Academy, and none of the three prior nominees won – Rickey expresses skepticism about Bigelow’s nomination being a sign that Hollywood is more open to films directed by women. Rickey cites an academic study showing that fewer than 10 percent of films are directed by women, and by Rickey’s own count in 2009, finds that under seven percent of the top-grossing 250 films were directed by women. She also quotes a film scholar who gives deeper context, arguing that in the early days of film women directors were much more common, and were not generally ghettoized by genre. Today, most often, women direct romantic comedies.

The article is enjoyable because it puts Bigelow’s achievement into perspective, gives context for her DGA victor and her Academy nomination, and provides a sidebar detailing the 17 top-grossing films directed by women in 2009. The context allows readers to consider the roles of women in Hollywood, implies questions about why women directors tend to be ghettoized, and flatly asserts that the Academy marginalizes films about the female experience – according to Rickey, “Bigelow, who specializes in genre movies about men addicted to danger (see Point Break), is more in the Academy’s traditional mold.”

More than most stories in the Inquirer‘s “Magazine” section, Rickey’s piece does an excellent job with context. Sadly, it highlights how, especially when it comes to coverage of local artists and arts organizations, the paper’s features and reviews don’t delve quite so deeply into their works’ artistic significance, be it to the city or to the art form.

– Nick Gilewicz

• After reading Linda Loyd’s article about funding for the Delaware River dredging project in last Wednesday’s Inquirer¸ I wanted to know more. I’d been curious about the project for quite some time. The behemoth banner on Columbus Boulevard that reads, “DREDGING = JOBS” always struck me sort of funny; I assumed there were a lot people who, like me, didn’t know what dredging really even was, but suspected that it had to be more than just jobs, as the banner proclaims. So after I read Loyd’s article, which discusses the lack of funds for the project in the new federal budget, but doesn’t discuss much about the project itself, I visited the Inquirer’s website to see if I could dig up some more information.

I was happy to find that the proposed project’s saga has been covered extensively by Loyd and other Inquirer staff. The paper has even dedicated the issue a “Hot Topics” page, containing stories on all aspects of the project and links to organizations supporting and opposing it. The Inquirer has covered the funding for the project, followed debates over where the extracted mud and sand could be dumped, studied how Philadelphia’s port measures up to other ports in the region, and published forward-looking pieces on what impact the project would have on the city’s economy. The page was exactly what I was looking for. So a HOOT for Linda Loyd and The Philadelphia Inquirer. They provide a great resource for anyone who wonders whether dredging is more than just jobs.

– Jared Brey

• In the Daily News article “Immigrationʼs Unspoken Word,” Stu Bykofsky chronicles the development of the HR 4321 bill, also known as the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for Americaʼs Security and Prosperity Act of 2009. Although Bykofsky is well known for his crude and unapologetically slanted reporting, this article being no exception, he managed to effectively illustrate the historical context of this ever-present and mammoth American dilemma, even for an uninformed reader.

I appreciated his sincerity in exposing Congressman Bob Bradyʼs support of the bill as what it is “a dead letter” and a “third rail.” By citing a recent Zogby poll which proves that the majority of Americans pertaining to different working classes support primarily, law enforcement, and secondly, conditional legalization he emphasizes how this reform is most unwelcome. In a country clawing its way out of one of historyʼs most significant economic crises passing this bill could create public disapproval and could ultimately render these newly legalized immigrants societyʼs scapegoat.

However aggressive the tone of this article may be its sharpness makes it a very potent piece, successful in conjuring a readers emotion, be that rage or unabashed support.

Mr. Bykofsky is unflinching in stating the temerity of certain immigrant
spokespeople demanding rights from a society whose laws they have conscientiously inflicted, and it is hard to disagree with him.

As an immigrant myself I realize there are many facets to the illegal immigrant situation in America. This chunk of society generates many commodities that most Americans would regret going without. However in comparison to the usually safe documenting voice of the mainstream media, this article is on some level a breath of patriotic fresh air.

-Natalia Chiarelli

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