Jane Campion Learns the Power of the Milkshake Duck

Venus Williams and Jane Campion. Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photos by TBS/YouTube and Getty Images

Update, Monday, March 14 at 2:10 p.m.: Faster than you could say “Kodi Smit-McPhee,” Jane Campion has issued an apology for insinuating she has it harder than Venus and Serena Williams in her Critics Choice Awards acceptance speech. “I made a thoughtless comment equating what I do in the film world with all that Serena Williams and Venus Williams have achieved. I did not intend to devalue these two legendary Black women and world-class athletes,” Campion said in a statement shared by Variety. “The fact is the Williams sisters have, actually, squared off against men on the court (and off), and they have both raised the bar and opened doors for what is possible for women in this world. The last thing I would ever want to do is minimize remarkable women. I love Serena and Venus. Their accomplishments are titanic and inspiring. Serena and Venus, I apologize and completely celebrate you.” So now there’s that.

Original story follows.

To be a Twitter main character is to play with fire. To be a Twitter main character during awards season is to frolic in hell’s own lava. In the lead-up to the Oscars, fans and press always cast their heroes and villains like some sort of Avengers: Endgame cringe-edit. But it’s rare that one of these players has as wild of a heel turn as Jane Campion this past weekend. Over the course of 24 hours, the Power of the Dog director raised her goodwill up only to slaughter it, like a cattle rancher for trending sound bites.

On Saturday’s Directors Guild Awards red carpet, Campion was asked to comment on Sam Elliott’s home of phobic response to her queer Western. She gave the quote of the night when she answered, “He was being a little bit of a B-I-T-C-H. He’s not a cowboy. He’s an actor.” It was a hilarious moment; the clip was shared thousands of times; and the cherry on top was Campion winning the biggest award of the night. All in all, a good Twitter showing.

But then came the Critics Choice Awards on Sunday, and with them, another Best Director win. This could have been another high point in her hot streak, but Campion’s acceptance speech took a turn when she had to make it about the white woman oppression Olympics. Campion begins her speech by saying, “Venus and Serena, what an honor to be in the room with you,” and joking about her tennis elbow. Cute! But she follows it up with, “Serena and Venus, you are such marvels. However, you do not play against the guys …” Campion pauses for laughter but it’s pretty freaking sparse, “… like I have to.” The camera cuts to Venus giving a wince for the ages. The audience, including Serena, breaks into applause and cheers at this point, but Venus’s expression is volumes louder.

Jane, are you not aware of the obstacles and constant racism Serena and Venus Williams have faced as Black women from a non-wealthy background in the world of tennis? Because there’s a two-and-a-half-hour movie out that will walk you through the whole thing.

To make matters whatever-the-opposite-of-better is, Venus had to put up with this after the ceremony, bearing the onus of being a “good sport”:

With the Oscars two weeks away, all in all it was a very inopportune time for such Milkshake Duckery. You know who would have never pulled a stunt like that? Bronco Henry.

Jane Campion Learns the Power of the Milkshake Duck