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Jane Campion blasted, Venus and Serena Williams ‘don’t play against guys’ at Critics Choice Awards

Director Jane Campion is being blasted for telling famous tennis players Venus and Serena Williams that they ‘don’t play against the guys like she has to’ during her Critics Choice Awards speech.

One day after she was praised for calling out Sam Elliott’s ‘sexist’ comments about her progressive Western Power of the Dog, Jane, 67, was labeled as ‘racist’ and ‘privileged’ after she claimed that Serena, 40, and Venus, 41, didn’t have to struggle the way she had to, since they only compete against other women and not men.

Her remark appeared to leave Venus mortified – who looked visibly uncomfortable during the speech – and made many people on the internet angry, with some Twitter users branding the director’s comments as ‘ugly’ and ‘vile.’

They slammed the director – who was previously commended for being so ‘woke’ – for ‘tearing two black women down for no f**king reason’ and ‘diminishing the constant misogynoir’ that Venus and Serena have faced throughout their career in a ‘white male dominated sport.’ 

Jane Campion is being completely blasted for her Critics Choice Awards speech – during which she told Venus and Serena Williams that they ‘don’t play against the guys, like she has to’

During her acceptance speech, Jane claimed that Serena, 40, and Venus, 41, didn't have to compete against men the way she had to - leaving Venus mortified

During her acceptance speech, Jane claimed that Serena, 40, and Venus, 41, didn’t have to compete against men the way she had to – leaving Venus mortified

Twitter users have branded the Power of the Dog director as 'privileged,' 'arrogant,' and 'ignorant,' while calling her comments about the tennis stars 'petty,' 'racist', and 'ugly'

Twitter users have branded the Power of the Dog director as ‘privileged,’ ‘arrogant,’ and ‘ignorant,’ while calling her comments about the tennis stars ‘petty,’ ‘racist’, and ‘ugly’

Jane, 67, took to the stage on Sunday night to accept the award for Best Director at the event, which took place at the Fairmont Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, California.

She won for her Netflix movie Power of the Dog, which was about a 1925 rancher who struggled to come to terms with his brother’s new relationship. 

After it came out, the Western was commended for its depiction of a ‘masculine crisis,’ due to the main character Phil Burbank’s (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) ‘constant need to prove he’s the roughest, toughest leader in a wolf pack of cowboys, possibly to hide his adoration and affection for the long-gone man who taught him more than just how to ride a horse,’ according to Roger Ebert.

Jane, 67, took to the stage on Sunday night to accept the award for Best Director at the event, which took place at the Fairmont Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, California. She won for her Netflix movie Power of the Dog

Jane, 67, took to the stage on Sunday night to accept the award for Best Director at the event, which took place at the Fairmont Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, California. She won for her Netflix movie Power of the Dog

The director began her speech by praising Halle Berry – who won the SeeHer Award earlier on in the ceremony and gave her own powerful speech about feminism.

‘It’s absolutely stunning to be here tonight among so many incredible women,’ Jane gushed. ‘Halle Berry, you have already done my speech … and really killed it. I loved it. You’re absolutely brilliant.’

Jane then turned her attention to Venus and Serena – whose childhoods are the subject of the Will Smith-led biopic King Richard based on their father, Richard Williams, which was up for five awards at the event.

‘What an honor to be in the room with you,’ Jane said to the talented sisters. 

‘I’ve taken up tennis – I truly have – and Will, if you want to come over and give me lessons, I would truly love it. I actually had to stop playing because I’ve got tennis elbow.’

She then paid respect to her fellow nominees, who she pointed out were all men, before returning her attention back to the Williams sisters. 

She added: ‘Venus and Serena, you’re such marvels, however, you don’t play against the guys, like I have to.’

While Serena clapped and laughed at Jane’s remark, Venus looked like she was unamused, as she starred up at Jane with a forced smile on her face. 

The audience supported Jane’s speech and cheered loudly for her, but the backlash on Twitter from viewers at home was just as loud – with many people slamming Jane for her ‘out of touch’ and ‘vile’ statement.

During her speech, Jane spoke to Venus and Serena - who were in attendance due to the biopic King Richard based on their dad, which was up for five awards of its own

During her speech, Jane spoke to Venus and Serena – who were in attendance due to the biopic King Richard based on their dad, which was up for five awards of its own

Jane paid respect to her fellow nominees, who she pointed out were all men, before adding: 'Venus and Serena, you’re marvels, however, you don’t play against the guys, like I have to'

Jane paid respect to her fellow nominees, who she pointed out were all men, before adding: 'Venus and Serena, you’re marvels, however, you don’t play against the guys, like I have to'

Jane paid respect to her fellow nominees, who she pointed out were all men, before adding: ‘Venus and Serena, you’re marvels, however, you don’t play against the guys, like I have to’ 

Venus appeared to be visibly uncomfortable during the speech, as she starred up at Jane with a forced smile on her face

Venus appeared to be visibly uncomfortable during the speech, as she starred up at Jane with a forced smile on her face

Serena, on the other hand, clapped and laughed at Jane's remark

Serena, on the other hand, clapped and laughed at Jane’s remark

‘Jane Campion, how exactly does diminishing and stomping all over the constant misogynoir Venus and Serena face help you, a white woman, climb the ladder?’ asked one Twitter user.

‘How ugly and privileged of you. I need some people to enjoy the sound of their own voices a little bit less.’

‘White women centering themselves over black women is so normalized,’ agreed another. ‘Jane Campion served Serena and Venus a backhand with her full chest.

‘That was so unnecessary, petty, and ugly. She couldn’t achieve what they have with barriers faced in white male dominated tennis sport.’

‘The arrogance and ignorance of Jane Campion,’ someone else said. ‘Anyone who knows anything about Venus and Serena’s careers wouldn’t think to utter something this stupid and insulting.’

‘What Jane Campion said in her speech was not funny or appropriate. It was racist,’ tweeted a different user.

‘White people laughing, and thinking it was valid shows why there’s still so many d**n issues in this industry. They’re OK with the casual racism because they don’t see racism the way we do.’

‘Jane Campion really got on stage and decided to tear two black women down for no f**king reason whatsoever,’ read a fifth tweet.

‘Jane Campion sounds stupid! How out of touch, privileged and ignorant she sounds. Venus and Serena Williams have to endure what any female has to endure,’ said someone else. 

The audience cheered loudly for Jane's speech, but the backlash on Twitter from viewers at home was just as loud

The audience cheered loudly for Jane’s speech, but the backlash on Twitter from viewers at home was just as loud

‘Plus, enduring it as black American females. Which can not be a picnic for them all the d**n time.’ 

‘There was a room full of white men in her industry she could have s**t on. Instead, Jane Campion decides to call out two of the most accomplished black women in their respective fields in order to feed her ego,’ wrote another user. ‘White women will always white women.’ 

‘I didn’t even know who Jane Campion was until 23 hours ago,’ joked one user. ‘I’d like to go back to that.’ 

‘With an attitude like that, she might as well be one of the guys,’ tweeted another disgruntled viewer.  

‘That was not necessary,’ read another angry message. ‘How can she say something so [white]? She took the low road when she should’ve taken the high road.  

‘Campion went from champion to loser with this speech. Disappointed. Disgusted. Venus and Serena face so much more in an hour than Jane goes through in a decade.’

‘Jane Campion diminishing the accomplishments of WOC while she accepts her award is so freaking on brand for woke white women,’ another person tweeted. 

One night before the event, Jane received a lot of positive attention online after she responded to actor Sam Elliot’s criticism of her movie – which is nominated for 12 Oscar Awards – on the red carpet at the Directors Guild of America Awards.

Sam, 77, who has starred in many Westerns, had previously slammed the film for its ‘allusions of homosexuality,’ and questioned Jane’s knowledge on the subject.

Jane responded by calling him ‘sexist’ and ‘a B-I-T-C-H’ – and at the time, her ‘iconic’ and ‘classy’ reply garnered a lot of respect from the internet. 

‘What the f**k does this woman from down there know about the American West?’ Sam said on Marc Maron’s WTF Podcast last week.

One night earlier, Jane (pictured at the DGA Awards) received a lot of positive attention online after she responded to Sam Elliot's criticism of her movie at the Directors Guild of America Awards

One night earlier, Jane received a lot of positive attention online after she responded to Sam Elliot's (pictured on March 9) criticism of her movie at the Directors Guild of America Awards

One night earlier, Jane (left) received a lot of positive attention online after she responded to Sam Elliot’s (right) criticism of her movie at the Directors Guild of America Awards

Sam, 77, who has starred in many Westerns, had previously slammed the film (pictured) for its 'allusions of homosexuality,' and questioned Jane's knowledge on the subject

Sam, 77, who has starred in many Westerns, had previously slammed the film (pictured) for its ‘allusions of homosexuality,’ and questioned Jane’s knowledge on the subject 

Sam said his main gripe stemmed from the implications that the character Phil Burbank was a closeted gay man and that the movie over-critiqued the masculine image of the west

Sam said his main gripe stemmed from the implications that the character Phil Burbank was a closeted gay man and that the movie over-critiqued the masculine image of the west

'He was being a little bit of a B-I-T-C-H. He’s not a cowboy; he’s an actor,' Jane said in response to his comments. 'I think it’s a little bit sexist'

‘He was being a little bit of a B-I-T-C-H. He’s not a cowboy; he’s an actor,’ Jane said in response to his comments. ‘I think it’s a little bit sexist’

‘Why the fuck did she shoot this movie in New Zealand and call it Montana? And say this is the way it was? That f**king rubbed me the wrong way.’

He also compared the movie’s ranch workers to Chippendales dancers who ‘wear bowties and not much else.’ 

‘That’s what all these f***ing cowboys in that movie looked like,’ he continued. ‘They’re all running around in chaps and no shirts. There’s all these allusions to homosexuality throughout the f***ing movie.’ 

At the center of the controversy, Sam said his main gripe stemmed from the implications that the character Phil Burbank was a closeted gay man and that the movie over-critiqued the masculine image of the west. 

‘The myth is that they were these macho men out there with the cattle,’ he said. ‘I just came from Texas where I was hanging out with families – not men – but families. 

‘Big, long, extended, multiple-generation families that made their livings… and their lives were all about being about cowboys.

‘And boy, when I f**king saw that [movie], I thought, “What the f**k?” Where’s the western in this western?’

He added that he was also angry that lead actor Benedict’s character never seemed to remove his chaps. 

‘Every f**cking time he would walk in from somewhere – he never was on a horse – he’d walk in to the f**cking house, storm up the f**cking stairs, go lay in his bed, in his chaps and play the banjo,’ Sam stated. 

‘I’m sorry, he was being a little bit of a B-I-T-C-H. He’s not a cowboy; he’s an actor,’ Jane told Variety in response to his comments. ‘The West is a mythic space and there’s a lot of room on the range. I think it’s a little bit sexist.

‘When you think about the number of amazing Westerns made in Spain by [director] Sergio Leone.

‘I consider myself a creator. I think he thinks of me as a woman or something lesser first, and I don’t appreciate that.’ 

‘If someone responded to me this way, I would quit and move home. If my home no longer existed, I would bury myself alive,’ one person wrote on Twitter, regarding her response.

‘Give her the Oscar right now,’ agreed another.

‘Go girl, get his a**,’ read another tweet. A fourth said, ‘The well-deserved, diplomatic bitch slap heard ‘round the world. Kudos #janecampion.’

‘Such a baller f**king response,’ agreed a different Twitter user.

However, just 24 hours later – due to her comments about Serena and Venus – Jane went from being championed to criticized.

Earlier this month, Campion was questioned over her directing choices and was asked whether or not she ever worried about ‘overdoing all the leather and ropes and chaps.’ 

‘Too much leather and ropes and chaps? I encouraged it,’ she told the Guardian in an interview published on March 4. 

When approached by DailyMail.com on Wednesday, Sam – who was running errands – sarcastically claimed to have no knowledge of the movie.

‘What are you talking about?’ he said, when asked about his thoughts on the film. ‘I don’t know anything about it.’

However, his comments on WTF Podcast have sparked outrage in Hollywood.

The Power of the Dog star Benedict, 45, hit back at Elliott, describing his comments a ‘very odd reaction’ to the movie. He also noted there is still ‘a massive intolerance in the world at large towards homosexuality.’ 

‘I’m trying very hard not to say anything about a very odd reaction that happened the other day on a radio podcast over here,’ Cumberbatch, who stars as a repressed gay cowboy in the film, said during BAFTA’s Film Sessions on Friday.

‘Without meaning to stir over the ashes of that […] someone really took offense to – I haven’t heard it so it’s unfair for me to comment in detail on it – to the West being portrayed in this way.’


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