‘Jennifer’s Body’ Director Karyn Kusama On Women In Hollywood, Diablo Cody And Outsiders

When “Juno” first came out, there was a frenzy over Diablo Cody. It didn’t hurt that Cody was as much a part of the marketing process of the movie as any of the stars: an outspoken, gorgeous writer who has never been afraid to talk about feminism, being a stripper or anything else on her mind. The backlash was soon to follow, and grew stronger after she won an Oscar for her screenplay for “Juno.” Now movie-goers and critics have such a love/hate relationship with the writer that they’ll either support her in any endeavor or avoid anything she’s touched. A big part of that is the way she writes, a particular and peculiar language that doesn’t always jibe with some sensibilities.

Her script for “Jennifer’s Body” is no different, of course. “Do you have a tampon?” asks Jennifer (Megan Fox) at one point. “You look like you might be plugging.” Of course, it wasn’t so long ago that people were telling each other, “Great pate, mom, but I gotta motor if I wanna be ready for that funeral,” as in “Heathers,” or “Rise up in the cafeteria and stab them with your plastic forks!” from “Pump Up the Volume,” or “I’m Audi” from “Clueless.”

So, what’s with all the Diablo hate? Don’t a lot of authors create their own vibe? “Jennifer’s Body” director Karyn Kusama said, with her refreshing bluntness, “I’m fascinated by the criticism that Diablo receives for creating a language, as if that, as a writer, is some unspeakable horror. It’s as if people haven’t read ’Trainspotting’ or watched ’A Clockwork Orange’ or listened to a Quentin Tarantino movie or a David Mamet movie or listened to Tennessee Williams or listened to f–king Shakespeare, as far as I’m concerned.”

Maybe it’s not even about Diablo’s fun with puns, though. Maybe it’s because… well… she’s a woman? ” I mean, I just sort of feel like [people think], ’oh, so this is so appalling that a woman decides to take the language back and create it for herself in a meaningful way?’ That’s what gets me, is I ultimately feel like it’s a subtle referendum on her entitlement to her art and there’s a sense that she doesn’t deserve it and that pisses me off a lot.”

Unfortunately, the women in Hollywood issue is not just a cliché; it’s a reality. And while some directors – both male and female – have a “get over it” attitude about it, Kusama is not one of them.

“I definitely think it’s a conversation that needs to keep happening,” she said. “As much as I am tired of it, I’m tired more by the fact that it’s a conversation that needs to keep happening. We are not out of the woods, by any means, and I just think we have to sort of accept that information and then try to do something about it, you know? Try to examine it and try to really consider how we’ve gotten here and why we can’t seem to move past it, you know? That’s sort of where I’m at, just sort of trying to understand better the slow march toward change.”

Granted, I don’t think that women should support bad movies blindly just because they’re made by women, but it’s really important to speak with our dollars, because that’s what the studios listen to. We’ve come a long way, baby, but as Kusama points out, we’ve got a ways to go yet.

Do you think people are unfairly critical of Diablo Cody and her particular brand of teen-speak? Or are you over it?