The cape on the Dior ensemble Portman wore to the awards show had the name of snubbed female directors — including Greta Gerwig (Little Women), Lorene Scafaria (Hustlers) and Melina Matsoukas (Queen & Slim) — who did not receive nominations this year. McGowan scoffed at the feminist fashion statement being called “brave” by the mainstream media. In McGowan’s eyes, Portman is “an actress acting the part of someone who cares — as so many actresses do.”
McGowan, 46, wrote in her Facebook post that she finds “Portman’s type of activism deeply offensive to those of us who actually do the work.” Making sure to note, “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.”
Then directing her message directly to 38-year-old Portman, McGowan wrote, “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.
— Amy Kaufman (@AmyKinLA) February 10, 2020
“What is it with actresses of your ilk?” she continued. “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.”
McGowan said she’s singling out Portman because she’s the “latest in a long line of actresses who are acting the part of a woman who cares about other women. Actresses who supposedly stand for women, but in reality do not do much at all. Of course women in the world will keep buying the perfumes you promote, the movies you make, and think they’re buying into who you are. But who are you?”
She wrote that she heard Portman speak at a Women in Film event during which the Black Swan actress “reeled off depressing statistics and then we all went back to our salads. I quickly realized you and the other women speakers (and that joke of an organization) are just... frauds. You say nothing, you do nothing.”
McGowan said, “There is no law that says you need to hire women, work with women, or support women. By all means, you do you. But I am saying stop pretending you’re some kind of champion for anything other than yourself.”
The Brave author went on to add, “As for me, I’ll be over here raising my voice and fighting for change without any compensation. That is activism. Until you and your fellow actresses get real, do us all a favor and hang up your embroidered activist cloak, it doesn’t hang right.”
On the red carpet, Portman, an Oscar winner and a presenter at this year’s show, said she “wanted to recognize the women who were not recognized for their incredible work this year, in my subtle way.”
While the quick reaction to it on social media was that it was a “power move,” soon after Portman came under fire with some people calling her a hypocrite, pointing to that same statistic noted by McGowan: That Portman’s production company, Handsomecharlie Films, only ever hired one female director — and that was Portman herself.
There was further criticism that the majority of the other directors who helmed films were white men. However, the films her company produced featured prominent female characters and storylines.
Portman hasn’t commented about McGowan’s post — Yahoo has reached out to her rep and will update this story when we hear back — but on Instagram, she shared photos from the show. One, of her presenting with Timothée Chalamet, noted that “a third of the films [the actor had] been in have been directed by women!”
Portman’s feminist statements aren’t new. She’s been speaking out about women’s empowerment, whether it was in her In 2018 at the Power of Women event about toppling the patriarchy or in her Women’s March speeches. She was one of the founding signatories of Time’s Up and became an ambassador for WE’s the Power of a Girl campaign back in 2011. And she’s protested the lack of female directors being recognized at awards shows before. While presenting Best Director at the Golden Globes in 2018, she went off-script to say, "And here are the all-male nominees."
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