Natalie Portman wore a cape to the Oscars embroidered with the names of female directors who were snubbed by the Academy. While many applauded her effort, others were less charmed, noting their displeasure on Twitter.
Rose McGowan has joined the chorus of naysayers, posting on Facebook that the cape is “the kind of protest that gets rave reviews from the mainstream media for its bravery.” She added, “Brave? No, not by a long shot. More like an actress acting the part of someone who cares. As so many of them do.”
She went on: “I find Portman’s type of activism deeply offensive to those of us who actually do the work. I’m not writing this out of bitterness, I am writing out of disgust. I just want her and other actresses to walk the walk.”
McGowan continued: “What is it with actresses of your ilk? You ‘A-listers’ could change the world if you’d take a stand instead of being the problem. Yes, you, Natalie. You are the problem. Lip service is the problem. Fake support of other women is the problem.”
On Twitter, a critic wrote: “Really brave of Natalie Portman to elevate the voices of checks notes white women in Hollywood through the medium of squints harder …a garment that she will wear exactly once made by a brand that doesn’t pay a living wage.” Another added. “In a nearly 30 year career she has worked with 2 female directors. Be the change you want to see, do the hard work, take the first steps. I applaud you for the dress, but let’s do, not perform,” another added.
Portman responded Wednesday. “I agree with Ms. McGowan that it is inaccurate to call me ‘brave’ for wearing a garment with women’s names on it,” Portman said. “Brave is a term I more strongly associate with actions like those of the women who have been testifying against Harvey Weinstein the last few weeks, under incredible pressure.”
But she stood by her decision, and said she hoped the industry would shape up.
“The past few years have seen a blossoming of directing opportunities for women due to the collective efforts of many people who have been calling out the system,” Portman said. “The gift has been these incredible films. I hope that what was intended as a simple nod to them does not distract from their great achievements. It is true I’ve only made a few films with women. In my long career, I’ve only gotten the chance to work with female directors a few times – I’ve made shorts, commercials, music videos and features with Marya Cohen, Mira Nair, Rebecca Zlotowski, Anna Rose Holmer, Sofia Coppola, Shirin Neshat and myself. Unfortunately, the unmade films I have tried to make are a ghost history.”