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How should Natalie Portman and other celebrities react to the John Galliano scandal?

March 2, 2011 |  9:20 am

Numerous stars have worn or wear Christian Dior -- not just fashion-first fixtures but Oscar-level performers such as Michelle Williams, Marion Cotillard and Charlize Theron, the last of whom was once a fragrance spokeswoman for them.

Dior is, as everyone within smelling distance of a news site knows, a brand that has become charged after its chief designer, John Galliano, became embroiled in an anti-Semitism scandal. As my colleagues Adam Tschorn and Booth Miller write Wednesday, after the designer was accused by several people in Paris of making anti-Semitic remarks, a man who appeared to be the designer was shown on video saying he "loved Hitler" and had several off-screen women lived decades ago they'd now be "gassed ... and dead." Dior responded by saying it was going to fire Galliano. (Associates of Galliano said Wednesday morning that he has plans to enter rehab.)

In a stroke of unfortunate timing, the actress currently associated with Dior -- and in fact whose commercial for the brand is currently airing on national television -- also just happens to be in the spotlight for her Oscar win. Natalie Portman, a spokeswoman for Dior's Miss Cherie fragrance, severed her ties with Dior as the Galliano scandal picked up momentum.

A designer is, of course, different than an actor. When Mel Gibson sparks controversy, even longtime friends can remain quiet, suggesting, essentially, that's his problem to deal with. If John Gallliano makes racist or anti-Semitic remarks, an entire brand goes with him.

Portman did not remain quiet. "I am deeply shocked and disgusted by the video," the actress said in a statement Tuesday. "In light of this video, and as an individual who is proud to be Jewish, I will not be associated with Mr. Galliano in any way."

She may -- or may not -- have made those comments earlier had a representative for the motion-picture academy not stepped in.

Backstage at the Oscars on Sunday night, a reporter said she noticed Portman wasn't wearing Dior that night (she was wearing Rodarte, which makes sense given that the designer was behind the "Black Swan" costumes, but no matter), and  went on to ask how she felt about Galliano's alleged anti-Semitic remarks (this was before the video surfaced). The actress actually didn’t look that bothered by the question, and in fact may have been ready to answer it, but before she could, the person from the academy in charge of calling on reporters jumped in to say that we were going to move on to the next question, and the reporter sat down with Portman not saying anything.

The academy spokesperson got Portman off the hook of a thorny issue. For actors, reacting to a scandal like this is almost less a question of how but when. Respond too soon and you risk being tainted by that scandal; wait too long and you risk looking spineless.

The Charlie Sheen circus currently playing out presents its own issues for big-screen actors -- no doubt Colin Farrell, Sean Penn and even Mel Gibson are grimacing at being outed for an association with Team Winning. But the fashion and movie worlds are now so intertwined that when a controversy hits, some of the trickiest questions are those that confront Hollywood actors.


John Galliano fallout: Christian Dior takes steps to fire the designer

Oscars: Natalie Portman on baby names and life changes

Natalie Portman: an actress sacrifices for her art

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Natalie Portman (in Rodarte) at the Oscars. Credit: Gabriel Bouys/AFP

Comments () | Archives (5)

The comments to this entry are closed.

I wish Natalie Portman would of shown forgiveness and empathy for the hateful comments made by John Galliano . Hate and judgement breeds more prejudice and as a role model I wish she lead the media down this path. Natalie Portman choose to judge and convict John Galliano as she glows in winning an Oscar and also has a contract with the Dior company. This is a woman whose own moral compass had her steal the man who lived with his girlfriend and she now is pregnant with his child. The whole hypocrisy is very sad...

Natalie Hershlag (stage name Portman) is a hypocrite on so many levels and I speak specifically about the recent Dior drama!

Whilst Christian Dior was working overtime to sack their top designer, John Galliano for antisemitic behavior, they conveniently omitted to document their own very intimate relationship with Nazism way back when. Christian Dior's niece - Francoise Dior - married a leading figure in the post-war nazi movement - John Colin Jordan. Francoise Dior went on to go on to say very publicly that:
"she longed to give birth to a little Nazi

In 1966 Francoise Dior returned to France, after serving time at Holloway prison for setting fire to synagogues, (not a word from Dior about their outrage concerning this) and was then sent to prison in Nice after sticking swastikas onto the walls of the British Embassy. This seems to be perfectly acceptable to jews such as Natalie Herslag who now stand in judgement of John Galliano.
The House of Dior also seems to be suffering from a pathological case of false memory syndrome. Was Francoise Dior disowned by any member of her high profile clan following her marriage to an unmentionable? Did the House of Dior provide a public condemnation of her marriage or her chosen spouse? Was Francoise Dior disinherited or, dispossessed, and more importantly, has this historical 'shame' dissuaded the Natalie Hershlag from choosing to cash in on the Dior name (by endorsing their perfume line) all for the greater good of avarice?

Moreover, for someone who has tried so desperately to impart her 'extraordinary intelligence" (read arrogance and ineloquence) on all serfs, (for the betterment of planet earth and quite possibly the universe), I would suggest that she drop out of public life, enrol on a History degree course at a community college (Her Harvard psychology degree has evidently been lost on her) or better still, take her tainted 'fascist' Dior earnings and fouette rond de jambe en tournant all the way back to Israel.

I'm proud of Natalie Portman for standing up for what she believes in.

And I'm also happy that this article noticed that Rodarte was the designer of the Black Swan costumes. Every other article makes such a big deal of Natalie not wearing Dior. It was my understanding, long before this scandal, that Natalie was probably going to wear Rodarte.

@ snowhorse: I find it incredibly rude to call Natalie a hypocrite for standing up against the hateful comments made by Galliano (especially since members of her own family were killed in the Holocaust). In addition, ENOUGH about Millepied's former girlfriend. People break up all the time and start new relationships. We don't know what goes on in these private relationships. And frankly, it is none of our business.

i guess if John Galliano was Jewish and raped,sodomized and drugged a 13 year old, that would be fine with Mrs. Portman. Double standard? Just to clarify what I am referring to. Natalie Portman signed a letter of support for the Jewish pedophile Roman Polanski with regards to the rape of a child, yet she is condemning Galliano for an antisemitic slur. I am not justifying Galliano's stupidity,but Portman's support for a pedophile that happens to be Jewish is the epitome of hypocrisy.

It seems like the majority of comments here are the supporting the hypocrisy of Natalie Portman . What John Galliano did was wrong but her judgmental arrogance seems like the mean hypocrite Queen of Hollywood. Amazing how one can tarnish their reputation with a few unscripted words and this goes for both Natalie Portman and John Galliano.
I also would like to see more of this Geraldine Bloch who chose to destroy an entire fashion house and hurt their workers because of a drunk man"s tirade ; the Dior workers are the victims here.


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