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Natalie Portman Gives Some Real Talk About Feminist Portrayals in Hollywood

Natalie Portman Gives Some Real Talk About Feminist Portrayals in Hollywood

Natalie Portman, in an interview for Elle UK, gave some surprisingly blunt real talk about what Hollywood considers feminist portrayals of female characters. 

Portman has been outspoken about wanting a female director for Thor 2 (which she is currently on a publicity tour for) and has been known for portraying a wide range of female characters from her film debut in The Professional to her Oscar winning role as a mentally ill ballerina in Black Swan. But because some of the characters Portman has played “kick-ass” she that doesn’t mean they are feminist–at all.

The fallacy in Hollywood is that if you’re making a ‘feminist’ story, the woman kicks ass and win. That’s not feminist, that’s macho. A movie about a weak,
vulnerable woman can be feminist if it shows a real person that we can emphasise with.

I can just see someone pitching Portman a movie saying “look this character is so great for you, she’s independent, carries a guns, kicks some ass.  She’s a feminist.”  What Portman is saying and I think is important is that you can’t just use the word feminist — which is something these people fear — as a way to solve the problem of a lack of real female characters in movies. 

This goes along with the recent conversation about how women characters are limited to being strong, and of course the ongoing, seemingly never ending debate about why we can’t have a female superhero movie.  I believe a female superhero movie is coming and soon but the question is will they be smart enough to create a female lead that stands on her own and is not in the exact mold of the male superheroes.  And if they are not smart or imaginative and another female superhero movie tanks whose fault will it be?  The women who refused to see a movie that panders or the studio who pandered?  Because like it or not, women and men are not the same and the characters need to be authentic. 

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Comments

Michelle

This post is filled with grammatical and syntactical issues. If women are going to write about a topic as important as feminism and females in the media and entertainment industry, can we at least make sure the article is written and articulated well?

Kudos to Natalie Portman. She's brilliant and strong and talented.

Chrissy

While I agree with her comments, I'm at the point where would accept it if Media would just spin a wheel to determine the sex/race/culture/gender identity/etc traits for the characters.

SPIN! Ah, looks like we have an Indian Bisexual, Female who's been living in Jamaica the majority of her life. Let's see her drive the fast car and blow up the evil secret lair.

Kathy

I liked Portman's comments. I would add that a feminist film features women who are doing women's rights activism. Unfortunately, we have very few films like Iron Jawed Angels, which paid homage to the heroism of Alice Paul and the Silent Sentinels as they braved violence so that we women could vote. I think it's sad that people think Mad Men is a feminist TV series. True, it is sympathetic to the sexism that women endured in the 60's, but it doesn't show any feminist activists. And it says nothing about feminist breakthroughs that happened during that time.

Quills

Humanism in place of feminism implies that all genders/sexes have the same problems or needs in society. You can be a feminist and a humanist, you can be a humanist and a feminist, but the two are not the same and they are not interchangeable. They are also not mutually exclusive.Humanist doesn't mean what you think it means. Also Humanism doesn't mean what you're trying to make it mean. Humanism was a cultural and intellectual movement of the Renaissance that emphasized secular concerns as a result of the rediscovery and study of the literature, art, and civilization of ancient Greece and Rome. It is the denial of any power or moral value superior to that of humanity; the rejection of religion in favor of a belief in the advancement of humanity by its own efforts. All good stuff, but not interchangeable with feminism.

AORINVA

The word is divisive which is why I didn't use it.

aorinva

Well she has a point, but macho is a cultural standard, not a human trait. Men are just as vulnerable as women, but they're more likely to be guided by such macho schisms in their life. If it's feminist to not just show women as kicking ass than I would argue that it's not feminist but humanist, which is where men and women can find solidarity.

Josh

Natalie hit the nail on the head. She is 100% Right.

McCrutchy

Shut up and get back in the kitchen, Natalie!

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