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James Cameron on Marriage

November 6th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

“Anybody can be a father or a husband. There are only five people in the world who can do what I do, and I’m going for that” – Linda Hamilton, quoting her ex-husband, director James Cameron.

In the October 26 issue of The New Yorker magazine, there is an exhausting profile on director James Cameron, he of Aliens, Terminator (1 and 2), Abyss, and Titanic fame. The story’s author, Dana Goodyear goes into great detail about not only Cameron’s filmography and career but his personal life as well. In an interview with Linda Hamilton (most fans will remember her for her role as Sarah Connor in the two Terminator films), who was once married to Cameron, she talks about what kind of man he was and in doing so recalls the quote I wrote above.

When I came across it, I just had to put down my magazine for a quick second and think about what I read.

As egotistical as Cameron’s quote is, he kind of has a point. After all, name nine other directors who has accomplished in their career what Cameron has in his, bet you only get to five. Even outside of film, where Cameron won Oscars and broke box office records for the same movie (Titanic), most men will never be able to reach a similar amount of success.

But what the quote really made me think about is the male ego and how we men, no matter how successful or unsuccessful we are, allow it to take over our lives and affect our common sense. Cameron would like to believe that women, as great as they are, are a distraction to accomplishing his goals. Most men at some point or another, believe the same thing. As my Pop once told me, Whatever you do, don’t fall in love too early. Go to school, get into college, graduate, then worry about her, whoever she is, later.

As good of a construction worker as my Pop was and as brilliant as he is, he was no James Cameron of construction. But I do believe he felt he could have been were it not for letting his love for women who came in his life, and having children with a couple of them, get in his way.

The differences between my Pop and someone like Cameron are probably an ocean wide, but when Cameron said this quote, I realized no matter how different two men are, women will always be the great equalizer.  The quote made me think: If I want to be as successful as Cameron is, must I choose my career over being a good husband or father like he has? If I don’t, will I end up like my Pop, a talented, but frustrated construction worker who coached my little league team?

But then I thought about men who have done a pretty good job at being both career-focused and family-focused, men like, Barack Obama. From the looks of it he’s a pretty good father to his two daughters and a good husband to his wife. He’s also President of the United States and won a Nobel Peace Prize. And though I don’t think there’s even five people in the world who can do that, myself included, it’s worth a shot.

If interested, click here to read “Man of Extremes: The Return of James Cameron”

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  • Soula Powa

    Co-sign Jozen. If Barack can balance his love life, family life, and running the nation at the same time, it is possible for me to achieve my career goals and keep my future kids happy and “off the pole.” (Shout to Chris Rock)

    *Raises cup*

    Here’s to getting out our dreams.

  • Leah

    Another great entry. Now that my father is gone, I remember him most for the great lessons and morals that he instilled in me and my 8 siblings. No one outside of our little town in Pittsburgh will know my father for his REAL jobs (a contract painter and a preacher), but I know that the truest value of his legacy is producing eight amazing human beings who are thoughful, God-fearing, and productive contributors to their society. Contrary to what James Cameron says, every man is NOT capable of doing that.

  • BMI

    obama appears to have a strong, successful companion. reading that nyer piece, and without knowing the details of the relationship or what they were actually going through, i got the impression that hamilton fell for the cameron idea, like the classic rock star girlfriend or “groupie” or whatever. again, not to discredit what she felt, but cameron comes across as someone who puts himself in front of everything, i would imagine it’s hard to have a supportive, mutually beneficial relationship under those circumstances. perhaps if he were able to feel more at peace with himself and his accomplishments (rather than having to constantly push himself harder to find that and prove that to himself – see the motorcyles and the underwater diving and all of that, the guy’s clearly in search of external stimulation in order to fill some sort of emotional/psychological hole), he might be able to foster a relationship that actually helped him achieve his goals as well as allow for him to be a great father and husband. obama, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to suffer from the same problem. you get the sense that whether he had become president or not, he would still be able to be successful and satisfied. you don’t get the sense that he asked michelle to worship him – he courted her. the actual joy of the relationship became a barometer of his own personal success, not just having her as arm candy/another accessory (as i would guess cameron viewed hamilton). not sure where that leaves you or your father, but my takeaway is that the way to be successful in all aspects (career, husband, father), the goal is to make sure that the woman you’re with is just as big a part of that puzzle as anything else – she’s not an accessory or an accident or the best that you could figure out at the time; she’s everything you’d want her to be and more. i imagine then, together, you might just be able to become that one in five.

  • E.

    James Cameron’s quote left me uneasy and somewhat sympathetic to his views on family. While I may be taking his words too close to heart, it is sad that one may think that they should choose between success and family. I believe that anything that you love or choose to pursue or nourish in life is a success. While his “success” of being a director is limited in the ranks of others (I can’t even name top ten directors off the top of my head), not anyone can be a great father or husband. In my opinion, anyone can be a director as well, but if we’re talking about greatness, then that’s another story. Barack Obama, Denzel Washington, Will Smith, Spike Lee, and many others have attribbuted much of their success to the foundation of having a solid family. I don’t have an issue with striving for success. I do have an issue of what some of us are willing to compromise in the name of it. You only get one life. Your career is what you do, not who you are.

  • RtG

    It should be noted that Barack and Michelle went through a rough patch in their marriage precisely BECAUSE his work/life balance was out of whack. Michelle wasn’t playin’ that and he made some adjustments. I bet it’s never been a 50/50 split, and I don’t think most women, including Michelle, realistically expect it to be. But for a man to out-and-out say that his family comes second to his career is tough to take. I don’t know many non-golddigging women who would do that. Not happily anyway.

  • Nikki

    This topic really resonated with me. My best friend is a VP in the film industry. Dating always took a backseat to his career. After achieving a certain level of success, he’s ready to find “her” and start a family. It hasn’t been easy. I’ve watched him date an embarrassing number of smart, beautiful, talented women. All with the hope of finding his soul mate. Sometimes I wonder if he stepped over her on the path to success. I know that he is happy but I see the way he looks at his brothers, all married, with envy. Even though this blog is about men, this topic is relevant to women. Many of my successful female friends sacrificed relationships to get to the top of the corporate ladder. They own homes, have big titles, fat salaries, and unfulfilling love lives. In addition, there’s that biological clock thing. Maybe you can’t have it all or at least at the same time. The romantic in me is inspired by stories about couples that have the ability to nurture each other dreams and grow together. John Grisham’s wife encouraged him to leave his career as a lawyer to write. She reads all of his drafts and he values her feedback. Like the Obamas, it probably takes work and picking the right partner.

  • Teach It

    It all comes down to choices. People must realize that you cannot necessarily “have it all”. Making a decision means leaving something behind. Very rarely can we have it both ways. When people try to have busy careers and raise a family, one will be neglected, and it’s usually the one where you don’t get a paycheck.

  • BoomShots

    It will forever amaze me when women choose to marry men who are succesful and defined by their work and then complain that all they do is work. Well duh!!

    He was the greatest thing since slice bed when you met him and all that is dynamic about him was tied to what he did for a living. Now you expect him to be less dynamic, less driven and less of a workaholic egomaniac. To paraphrase Cassius in “Julius Caesar”: “The fault, is not in our stars. But in ourselves….”

    Cameron’s ex-wife blamed him when the flaw was in her expectations not his. I tell folks all the time my father was a great dad but as a husband he was below average at best.

    The problem is too many women think men are somehow wired like they are. We get married and have kids and now our desire is to home with her and the kids and everything we do for the rest of our lives is centered on the family. There is nothing worng with that but very few men I know have that at the top of their list and the ones who are really driven, don’t even have it on the list.

    There is a price to be paid for the glamor and material comfort that comes with being married to a baller and shot caller. If you make that choice, you need to be able to pay that cost.

  • Dililah

    This was a great submission!!! The initial emotion I had was sadness, but it helped me put things in perspective.

    BMI – your comment spoke to me so much. Good stuff.

  • Brittany Castaneda

    Surprisingly introspective. I hope you’re able to grow & accomplish both.

  • AnonyMiss

    You know, it’s one thing to abandon your S.O. for your career…. but to abandon your children??? That’s never ok and that just says something about the hearts/minds of men that so many of them can abandon their children to chase their own dreams. I’m not tryna put men down. I’m just saying this is pretty different than the thinking of most women. If God told me today that I had to make a choice between having the career of my dreams or the family of my dreams…. I’d choose family.

  • EricaB

    I am shocked to see that no one thus far has made any comment on the first half of Cameron’s statement, “Anyone can be a father or a husband.” I don’t know what kind of world Mr. Cameron is living in, but it certainly takes a special kind of man to be a father (not a sperm donor) or a husband (not a roommate). There is plenty to be said for those men who make the effort to be husbands and fathers, regardless of their career status.

  • Blackwatertown

    As if there wasn’t already enough pressure on Barack Obama. Let’s add it up. He’s got the job of representing Americans abroad. He’s the embodiment of Black people in the USA. And now, on top of that, he also has to maintain his position as an unblemished icon of fatherhood and being a good husband.
    I tip my hat again to his grace under pressure. But, whilst not doubting that he is doing a pretty good job of balancing the career and family just now, I fear he could be the exception.

  • Saltwater

    You don’t have to look far to find people who are doing what Cameron does and don’t seem to have the same personal relationship issues: Spielberg seems to have no problem balancing film career and being a husband to Kate Capshaw and father to her children. Outside of Hollywood, many of the world’s greatest artists and writers were able to be husbands, partners and parents while still making great art. This is just a cheap self-deception and a rationalization, an effort to polish a turd that is his own emotional failures.