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Natalie Portman Receives Backlash for Oscars Dress

Gettyimages | Amy Sussman
By Lena Mueller

The Oscars, also known as the Academy Awards, is the biggest event in acting. Unfortunately, Hollywood hasn't always been known for its fair treatment of all its stars, which many have been quite vocal about over the past several decades. At the 2020 Oscars, actress Natalie Portman made a statement with her gown about an issue close to her- female directors aren't getting the recognition that they deserve in the awards ceremony. So, she got the names of female directors embroidered on her gown.

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Wikimedia | https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Natalie_Portman_%26_Chris_Hemsworth_(48470999262)_(cropped).jpg

As the nominations for the Oscars were announced, it became clear that not one female director had been nominated in any category- not even those whose movies had received several nominations in other categories, such as Greta Gerwig. Natalie Portman, who has been outspoken about women's rights throughout her career, decided that she needed to honor the women whom she felt had been overlooked by her statement piece. While it certainly does seem like a kind and powerful gesture, not everyone agreed.

Wikimedia | https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Natalie_Portman,_2011.jpg

The most common critique of Portman's gown came from actress Rose McGowan, which then spread across social media. McGowan said that Natalie Portman was in charge of her own production company, but there had never been a time when the actress hired a female director to produce films. In fact, out of all the films Natalie Portman has been in, she had only been in two where there were female directors, and she was one of them. This caused a lot of people to find Portman's statement hypocritical.

Gettyimages | Amy Sussman

Rose McGowan said that Portman isn't "practicing what she's preaching" because of the fact that she hasn't worked with female directors. She said that the custom Dior gown was not a brave statement by any means. Quite a lot of people on social media agreed with McGowan about this. But Natalie Portman responded to this criticism in an elegant way. She said that she wasn't trying to come across as brave, and the brave ones are those who have "testified against Harvey Weinstein" (which Rose McGowan is doing) and that she will do better in the future to promote women's work.

Gettyimages | Amy Sussman

McGowan responded that she regretted her criticism of Portman's gown and said, "My criticism should've been about Hollywood's ongoing culture of silence." Several people also praised Portman, such as Alma Har'el, the director of Honey Boy. She spoke about how Portman always supported women directors, especially when studios were trying to turn them loose. She also said that Portman's response was an example of class. Even though the way Natalie Portman addressed the issue might not have been pleasing to everyone, she did get people talking about it.

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