As promised, today’s New York Times Style Magazine has a story about Natalie Portman and her directorial debut (7.17.16). Apparently, just because I got my knickers in a twist about seeing her not wearing hers when talking about her new film, neither the NYT nor Natalie were impressed. Full speed ahead presenting her as Ms. Undies 2016.
But just a few things to observe in this week’s story titled “The E Mails of Jonathan Safran Foer and Natalie Portman.”
#1 – Natalie is wearing bikini bottoms. How do I know it’s not regular old underwear? Because credit is given to her bottom half. Turns out, that bikini bottom is from Solid and Striped and costs $88. (To get the top half, you have to pay another $88.) So, Natalie’s clothing choices for her article about directing matter. Those duds are an advertising vehicle. Big sweater which covers a sliver of her bathing costume? $415 from No. 6. $24 socks by Falke. Yup, her feet are covered.
#2 It’s not enough to sell clothes for this story about her skill set. Makeup, too. Dior 5 Couleurs Eyeshadow Pallette $62. Rouge Dior $35. Diorskin Star Foundation $50. Mind you, three of the four pictures in the spread are black and white. “Couleurs” might be overkill.
#3 And we all know you can’t have makeup without a hair stylist, too. Certainly both are a must for any spread on Quentin Tarantino or Tim Burton. In Nat’s case … Hair by Anthony Turner. Makeup by Peter Phillips for Dior. Set Design by Shona Heath at CLM. Note that the only technical job for this shoot, in terms of credits, was a woman.
And what did Natalie talk about? There was silly stuff about her kids’ guinea pigs and bunnies. I guess Jonathan wanted to make her real and humanize her. But also, there was really thoughtful insight into her work and the influences on that work. Jerusalem, Reviving Ophelia, the meaning of Shabbat. This is not a stupid woman. She is clearly talented, well read, and thoughtful. I rolled my eyes when she was quoted as saying “how “maternal the role of director is.” Stop it. Clint Eastwood is not maternal and neither are most of the directors who’ve made it big in Hollywood. And that includes women like Kathryn Bigelow. Nothing maternal about The Hurt Locker.
It seems to me that Natalie is a little self-conscious – and perhaps uncomfortable – about herself and her role as a director/boss of a picture. As a professor in the Film and TV department at Boston University, I see a lot of young woman, eager to be directors, writers, and producers. And I am here to tell you, some of them will be knock ‘em, sock ‘em successes. I am betting that few of them will have to pose in bikini bottoms for their directorial debut. At least I hope that is the case. And I can’t imagine any one of them saying that directing is “maternal.”
Every time articles I read articles like The Hollywood Reporter’s Women in Entertainment Power 100 or the fabulous NYT magazine story by Maureen Dowd “The Women of Hollywood Speak Out”, I am ebullient. There is hope. There are role models. Go team!
So I went back and read that article. The subheading was:
“Female executives and filmmakers are ready to run studios and direct blockbuster pictures. What will it take to dismantle the pervasive sexism that keeps them from doing it?”
Today, I have an answer to that. It will take news outlets getting their collective s%$t together and to stop being obtuse about women and their work. How about starting with NOT publishing pictures of women in their bikini bottoms when they are talking about their quite respectable work. If their work is pole dancing, more power to them, but pole dancing is not Natalie’s chosen career.
I love serendipity….Amazingly in today’s NYT Sunday Review section, there is a terrific article, “Who You Gonna Call to Direct?” God bless Nell Scovell who is an author with Sheryl Sandberg of “Lean In.” Nell writes, “Hollywood knows gender equality is a problem, but it still won’t fix it.” Her last paragraph begins, “Awareness without change is worse than ignorance.”
Amen, sister. Perhaps the NYT should start reading its own editorials. It might make them less ignorant, more aware and possibly pro-active. But no matter what, Natalie should put some pants on when she stands up to direct.