To hear the members of the liberal Hollywood elite tell it, actress Natalie Portman committed the ultimate sin last night at the Oscars when she took the stage to accept the Academy Award as best actress.
Portman was honored for her dramatic role in “Black Swan,” and she began her acceptance speech with the usual gratitude for the people whose relationship to the movie, however large or small, paved her way to the stage to receive one of the most coveted awards of the evening. After thanking fellow nominees, her parents, and the directors past and present who guided her career, Portman saved her concluding praise for “my beautiful love,” dancer and choreographer Benjamin Millepied.
Then, as if to underscore how the bright and promising career and the accolades she’s received up to that very moment paled in comparison, a visibly pregnant Portman thanked Millepied for giving her “the most important role of my life.”
The comment about becoming a mother likely drew approving smiles from most of the millions of Americans and worldwide viewers tuning into the televised Oscars ceremony, but it was revolting for Slate writer Mary Elizabeth Williams.
“At the time, the comment jarred me, as it does every time anyone refers to motherhood as the most important thing a woman can possibly do,” she wrote today. “But the reason why didn’t hit until I saw the ever razor sharp Lizzie Skurnick comment on Twitter today that, ‘Like, my garbageman could give you your greatest role in life, too, lady.'”
“When you’re pregnant, especially for the first time, there are a lot of amazed and awed moments in between the heartburn and insomnia. But is motherhood really a greater role than being secretary of state or a justice on the Supreme Court? Is reproduction automatically the greatest thing Natalie Portman will do with her life?” Williams wondered.
To Williams, Portman shouldn’t have diminished her role as an actress and the career to which she has aspired in order to make a positive point about her pregnancy and her forthcoming child. In her world, Williams suggests Portman should have merely noted her child and moved on — as if having children is no life-changing experience — but a fleeting moment to enjoy at the time and allow to float on the winds of change as one piles up additional trophies to gather dust on a mantle.
“Why, at the pinnacle of one’s professional career, would a person feel the need to undercut it by announcing that there’s something else even more important? Even if you feel that way, why downplay your achievement?” a clearly befuddled Williams writes.
“Why compare the two, as if a grueling acting role and being a parent were somehow in competition? And remind me — when was the last time a male star gave an acceptance speech calling fatherhood his biggest role?” Williams adds, apparently ignoring of the problem of fathers ignoring the importance of their roles and the ways in which fathers have created massive societal problems by abandoning and destroying their families.
Wendy Wright, the president of Concerned Women for America, brings things back into perspective with her comments to LifeNews.com in response.
“Hollywood is all about superficiality, and escape from reality that often leads to destroying lives and families,” she suggests. “Natalie Portman brought a sense of reality to the Oscars, that children and family are a greater priority and provide deeper significance to life than Hollywood’s highest award.”
“The selflessness of motherhood is the antithesis of Hollywood narcissism. Natalie provides hope that an actress can keep priorities straight and love her child more than her career,” she said.
And therein lies the rub — Williams is unable to get past self, claiming most acting mothers think: “If you’re lucky, it doesn’t diminish you as an artist.”
Williams concludes, “Motherhood is important. So is work. And you don’t have to backhandedly downplay one to be proud of the other.”
Perhaps she will someday see the argument goes both ways.