The backlash against Natalie Portman's feminist Oscars outfit, explained

Calling out the reactionary lack of diversity at awards shows has become so normalised that it's almost passé, and celebrities are finding new and ingenious ways to point out that they've heard this is a problem and want everyone to know they know, while drawing all the attention to themselves.

Enter: Natalie Portman at the Oscars.

Portman is known for her calling out movie industry sexism. Remember this iconic moment from the 2018 Golden Globes?

But perhaps because alluding to sexism on stage is so 2019... or because she knew she wouldn't actually get the screen time, she decided to literally wear her protest.

Donning a cape embroidered with the names of female directors who were snubbed by the Academy, she said:

I wanted to recognise the women who were not recognised for their incredible work this year in my subtle way.

Not so subtle as her "feminist cape" made headlines around the world but OK. Very Suffragette.

After a few hours of deciding that Portman was the embodiment of smashing the patriarchy, people have now turned on her sartorial statement, on the basis that wearing clothes and gaining huge positive publicity is not actually the same as using your massive platform to truly elevate female directors. And when it comes to the latter, Portman's record is pretty sketchy.

The actor owns her own production company, called handsomecharliefilms, which has produced eight films with another three on the way – yet it has only once hired a female director. Said female director was... Natalie Portman.

In her 26-year career, she has only worked with one female director (other than herself) – Rebecca Zlotowski in Planetarium, a film which was largely ignored by both the public and the critics.

Of course it's not Portman's responsibility to smash the wider patriarchal dynamics of the film industry single-handedly. But there are definitely more female directors she could have worked with.

Over on Twitter, people were quick to call out Portman's own record of working with female directors.

The megastars of the world seem to be getting showered with praise for every piece of performative wokedom they throw out there, yet it's rare that we actually see them held up to the accompanying standards.

It's easy to say you care about women being represented, but when it comes to actually using one's privilege to achieve this goal, it seems the likes of Portman prefer to stay quiet.

A sartorial choice isn't going to end systemic sexism, real action might be a better start.

Not all those wearing capes are heroes.

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