In a Facebook post Tuesday, McGowan called out Portman for wearing a Dior cape with the names of “snubbed” female directors (who weren’t nominated for best in their category), to the 92nd Academy Awards on Sunday. The Brave author remarked how the "mainstream media" applauds this type of "protest" for "its bravery."
"Brave? No, not by a long shot. More like an actress acting the part of someone who cares," McGowan wrote. "I find Portman’s type of activism deeply offensive to those of us who actually do the work." The Scream star said she was "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."
On Wednesday, Portman responded in a statement to Yahoo Entertainment.
"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," the Oscar-winning actress began.
"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 continued. "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."
The list of directors names on Portman's garment included Greta Gerwig (Little Women), Lorene Scafaria (Hustlers) and Melina Matsoukas (Queen & Slim). McGowan also took issue with the fact that Portman hasn't worked with many female directors. ("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.")
"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," Portman wrote. "Unfortunately, the unmade films I have tried to make are a ghost history."
The Black Swan star continued, "As Stacy Smith of USC has well documented, female films have been incredibly hard to get made at studios, or to get independently financed. If these films do get made, women face enormous challenges during the making of them. I have had the experience a few times of helping get female directors hired on projects which they were then forced out of because of the conditions they faced at work.
"After they are made, female-directed films face difficulty getting into festivals, getting distribution and getting accolades because of the gatekeepers at every level," Portman concluded. "So I want to say, I have tried, and I will keep trying. While I have not yet been successful, I am hopeful that we are stepping into a new day."
McGowan has yet to respond.
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