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Portman gets called out for flashy cape

by Callie Giaccone February 25, 2020
Portman gets called out for flashy cape

You may have heard Rose McGowan’s name concerning Natalie Portman’s dress choice at the Oscars this year.

McGowan, an American actress and activist, spoke out on Facebook about how she thought Portman’s cape, with the names of female directors who weren’t nominated in gold writing framing the dress, was “lip service.”

In this post, McGowan touched on many interesting points about Portman’s statement piece, alluding to the fact that Portman, being the A-lister that she is, needs to do more than just wear an expensive cape. McGowan explained that she’s not brave, and there are warriors that are taking on gender inequality everyday, and Portman shouldn’t profit off the work of these other women. Other criticism of Portman’s action are related to her directing and acting experience, implying that she has not made an impact on helping women directors grow.

According to CNN, Portman responded by saying “I agree with Ms. McGowan that it is inaccurate to call me ‘brave’ for wearing a garment with women’s names on it. 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.”

Then, later that week, according to The Guardian, McGowan responded with a Tweet saying “My critique should’ve been about Hollywood’s ongoing culture of silence. I realise that by critiquing someone personally, I lost sight of the bigger picture.”

So there’s a few things happening here—McGowan was mad, Portman was naive, and I’m tired.

All in all, the situation deflated quickly and anticlimactically. Yet here you are, and I’m going to talk about it anyway.

At first, reading McGowan’s post made me frustrated. Why was she so mad? Portman did a thing. It maybe wasn’t changing the world, but it was a thing. Can she calm down?

Then after thinking about it a little longer, I realized that I wasn’t being fair. McGowan’s anger is valid and important. It’s easy to dismiss angry women, and I think I do it more than I realize. There’s space for this anger in the fight for gender equality. This kind of anger moves the conversation forward. McGowan is on to something, true activism isn’t shiny and gold. It’s messy, hard and unpopular. It takes sacrifice.

It’s important for us to continue critiquing celebrities and their media coverage, because these actions affect our culture. We are in a new era of people sharing their opinions online and we are still figuring it out. It’s unprecedented.

We are expecting our celebrities to be political and wise, when many of them are just doing a job. Is it lip service? Or is it better than nothing? Who knows, but this open dialogue, although uncomfortable, is the catalyst for change. We need to move away from cancel-culture and toward conversations like these two women have shown.

Natalie Portman is allowed to wear a fancy cape and Rose McGowan is allowed to be angry about it. That’s feminism.

As for my personal opinion, I defer to Edna Mode: no capes!

Graphic by Sasha Axenova

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