If you haven't heard, Natalie Portman achieved a Mr. Salty-style level of skinnytude during the filming of Black Swan by eating tiny meals and working out for hours on end. Now some people are celebrating her "discipline." Please.
A Crushable article discusses "unhealthy relationship with food" portrayed in the movie, in which two incredibly skinny ballerinas vie for a plum dancing role:
"Both Natalie Portman and her costar Mila Kunis are pretty underweight in Black Swan. But as much as Nina is presented as an out of control anorexic, Mila's character Ali is her opposite – a healthy, sexualized, happy ballerina. And for a lot of girls, the lack of distinction there could be very dangerous.
"As it turns out, there's a very fine line between intense discipline and psycho OCD inspired eating disorders. And Black Swan jumps back and forth over that line for about two hours."
When people start jumping back and forth over that line in real-life, that lack of distinction becomes even more dangerous. Unfortunately, that seems to be happening, as people conflate discipline with what sounds like self-torture.
In an interview with New York Magazine's Vulture, for example, Black Swan choreographer Benjamin Millepied talks about Portman's daily cardio workouts and morning swims as though she were some Iron Man trainer who wasn't already dancing for hours and hours every day. But unlike the Iron Man athletes I've known, Portman didn't eating much to replenish all those burned-up calories. Nevertheless, Millepied gushes, "Even when we went to bed at eleven, she'd get up super-early, work out two hours before getting back on set, just to get herself going for the day, and to tone her arms. It was really very impressive discipline." (Especially if she didn't faint!)
Kunis, on the other hand, didn't have to dance as much and therefore didn't become as "disciplined" or skinny, Millepied points out:
She simply didn't have as much dancing to do; I think that's the way the part was written ... I saw her lose weight throughout the process for the part—she wasn't exactly not thin before. She worked a little bit, but it wasn't nearly comparable to Natalie.
When I read "wasn't nearly comparable," I heard another, underlying message: "wasn't nearly as good." Because discipline equals good, right? Kunis didn't have to dance and starve as much, so she didn't achieve the same level of "goodness" that Portman did. This idea seems to be reverberating throughout the coverage of this movie; lots of talk about Portman's likely Oscar nominations going on, but not so much talk about Oscars for Kunis. (Maybe Kunis should have exercised more, or eaten fewer carrots.)