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.