Hollywood’s hottest celebrities brought out some truly spectacular outfits during the 2020 Academy Awards, and while many simply aimed to look as stunning as possible, others used the opportunity to make statements with their ensembles, such as Billy Porter’s boundary-busting gown and Jane Fonda’s statement piece. Natalie Portman was another famous figure whose ensemble sent a message.
The Black Swan star wore a striking black gown with gold detailing, but it was her Dior cape that ruffled feathers, courtesy of tiny accents that could only be seen if you looked very closely. The elegant addition was “embroidered with the names of women who directed movies last year — and weren’t nominated for the 92nd Academy Awards,” according to Variety. Those names “included Lorene Scafaria (Hustlers), Lulu Wang (The Farewell), Greta Gerwig (Little Women), Marielle Heller (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood), Melina Matsoukas (Queen & Slim), Alma Har’el (Honey Boy), Céline Sciamma (Portrait of a Lady on Fire), and Mati Diop (Atlantics).”
While many praised Portman’s attempt to raise awareness on the red carpet, fellow actor Rose McGowan made it clear that she was not impressed.
Rose McGowan says Natalie Portman 'is the problem'
Rose McGowan has earned a reputation for calling out gender inequality in Hollywood, which is why it may initially seem strange that the outspoken activist took to Facebook to slam Natalie Portman’s decision to use fashion to promote female directors.
“Some thoughts on Natalie Portman and her Oscar ‘protest.’ The kind of protest that gets rave reviews from the mainstream media for its bravery. Brave? No, not by a long shot,” McGowan wrote. “More like an actress acting the part of someone who cares.”
McGowan said she finds “Portman’s type of activism deeply offensive to those of us who actually do the work.” She added, “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.” The Charmed alum detailed why she feels like Portman isn’t walking the walk off the red carpet. “Natalie, you have worked with two female directors in your very long career — one of them was you. You have a production company that has hired exactly one female director — you.”
McGowan didn’t stop there. “A-listers” (which she followed with a puking emoji) can “change the world if [they]’d take a stand instead of being the problem,” she said. “Yes, you, Natalie. You are the problem. Lip service is the problem. Fake support of other women is the problem.”
Rose McGowan's message was also criticized
Rose McGowan may have been critical of Natalie Portman’s cape, but plenty of others were critical of McGowan’s accusatory stance and made their feelings known online.
“Tearing down women is part of the problem and you seem A-ok with that. Public shaming women is a part of the problem and you’re doing that!” one of McGowan’s Facebook followers wrote. “This is the kind of conversation best communicated directly not flexing from your social media platform. We won’t get anywhere until we start really supporting one another and having each other’s backs. I’m disappointed in this post.”
Another social media user told McGowan that Portman “may not be an activist, but she is at least supporting activists, like you! [N]othing wrong with using her platform to bring attention to a problem. [I]ts a good start!”
“You don’t agree with her protest? Fine, then seek her out for a private conversation and speak about how you two can team together to create the positive environment you both seek,” another person wrote.
Portman had a thing or two to say as well…
Natalie Portman responded to Rose McGowan's criticism
Instead of going toe-to-toe with Rose McGowan online, Natalie Portman provided a statement to CNN. “I agree with Ms. McGowan that it is inaccurate to call me ‘brave’ for wearing a garment with women’s names on it,” she began. She then brought up those who have gone up against disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein, writing, “Brave is a term I more strongly associate with actions like those of the women who have been testifying against … Weinstein the last few weeks, under incredible pressure.”
Portman went on to discuss “a blossoming of directing opportunities for women due to the collective efforts of many people who have been calling out the system” and added that her cape “was intended as a simple nod to them” and wasn’t meant to “distract from their great achievements.”
Portman also responded to McGowan’s point about working with women directors, acknowledging that she’s only “made a few films with women,” but she pointed out that she has “made shorts, commercials, music videos, and features with Marya Cohen, Mira Nair, Rebecca Zlotowski, Anna Rose Holmer, Sofia Coppola, [and] Shirin Neshat.” She also noted that “the unmade films [she’s] tried to make are a ghost history,” largely because there are “gatekeepers at every level.”
“I have tried, and I will keep trying,” Portman stated. “While I have not yet been successful, I am hopeful that we are stepping into a new day.”
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