I’m willing to bet that Natalie Portman didn’t date Moby.
If I wasn’t prepared to believe her over him, which I was, there’s evidence from Moby himself that this relationship wasn’t just unlikely, it was very probably a figment of his imagination. It turned out to be a very useful figment of his imagination.
Moby is selling his biography. He named Ms Portman as a romantic connection. She denied the connection. She would have been eighteen at the time, and fourteen years younger than her alleged paramour.
Moby finally gave a form of apology to Ms Portman concerning the book. He claims that he should have informed her that he was including her in his biography. It’s telling that no one on the editorial or publishing team for the book did the fact-checking that would, very probably, have excluded Portman as a former partner of the musician. Moby does not apologise for lying about their alleged relationship status.
In his apology, Moby talked more about his biography than about the debacle with Portman, giving it’s title no fewer than three times in the couple of hundred word statement. He knew that a great many people would read it. In advertising, there’s a theory about persuasion: The first ad is a read, the second a reminder, and on the third, people will buy. I can’t help thinking this non-apology was probably written by a publicist.
At best, the alleged relationship might have been the fantasy of a thirty-something man thinking that a beautiful teenage woman might be attracted to him. At worst, this was a calculated ploy to sell his biography. If Portman said nothing about her inclusion in the book, Moby’s reputation could only be enhanced by claiming this romance. Anything Portman did choose to say would only add free publicity to Moby’s cause to sell his book.
It was a win-win situation for Moby, based on a couple of snaps of him and Portman together, in public.
Look closely at the two pictures, and it’s not hard to see that this is a young woman wearing the fixed grin of someone out of her depth, wary, and too polite to extract herself from the situation. What young woman hasn’t been in her shoes?
For generations, girls and young women have learned that often the only way to remain safe is to go along with situations involving men. I cannot recall the number of times men touched me without my consent, and I laughed off the contact, ignored it, or found some excuse to get out of reach, while smiling. I remember countless occasions when men of even minimal power thought that they could try it on, touch or speak inappropriately to me. It was part of my normal day-to-day interaction with men, generally in public arenas, in bars, on the tube, at work… wherever.
|Natalie Portman in Harpers Bazaar:|
If Ms Portman had dated Moby, there would be no reason for her to deny it two decades later. She might have laughed it off or minimised the romance. Nobody would care. She didn’t do that. She stated quite clearly that this amounted to a couple of creepy advances from a much older man with moderate power.
What reason does anyone have not to believe her?
It helps all of us when a powerful woman comments on these issues. It gives me hope that more of us will stop laughing off men’s inappropriate behaviour, and learn to speak up.