Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

Natalie Portman Gives Some Real Talk About Feminist Portrayals in Hollywood

News
by Melissa Silverstein and Kerensa Cadenas
October 1, 2013 10:00 AM
12 Comments
  • |

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. 

News
  • |

More: Natalie Portman, Feminism

Free Indie Movies and Documentaries    

12 Comments

  • Michelle | October 4, 2013 5:42 PMReply

    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 | October 3, 2013 6:21 PMReply

    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 | October 2, 2013 12:55 AMReply

    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 | October 1, 2013 7:49 PMReply

    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.

  • Kathy | October 2, 2013 12:49 AM

    I agree with you, Quills. I would also add that humanism has done nothing for women's rights. Humanists were not enduring violence on the streets, in the courts and in jail so that women could vote. Humanists were not enduring endless ridicule so that women could use birth control, enter the high paying, male dominated professions, play sports, get credit without a man's signature and so on. Humanists were not fighting sexual harassment and violence against women. Humanism is not about human rights.

  • AORINVA | October 1, 2013 5:13 PMReply

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

  • Kathy | October 2, 2013 12:51 AM

    The word is divisive because we're still in a very male dominated society and most people subconsciously believe that the male is the norm of humanity. To avoid using the word, feminism is to pander to people's prejudices and conform to the status quo.

  • aorinva | October 1, 2013 1:54 PMReply

    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.

  • grrljock | October 1, 2013 4:12 PM

    The term feminist captures what you said above. No need to be afraid of the word.

  • Josh | October 1, 2013 11:54 AMReply

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

  • McCrutchy | October 1, 2013 10:03 AMReply

    Shut up and get back in the kitchen, Natalie!

  • No Names Please | October 3, 2013 12:39 PM

    Screw you McCrutchy!

Email Updates

Most "Liked"

  • Trailer Watch: New Spot for Chloe Grace ...
  • Soska Sisters to Direct Superheroine ...
  • Trailer Watch: Jessica Chastain and ...
  • "Very Good Girls"Very Good Girls' Naomi Foner on What ...
  • Weekly Update for July 25: Women Centric, ...
  • Princess Leia and Orphan Black to Get ...
  • Showrunner Courtney Kemp Agboh's Journey ...
  • Jodie Foster to Direct George Clooney ...
  • Lucy Continues the Trend of Successful ...
  • Trailer Watch: Katniss Joins the Rebellion ...