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Jane Campion Receives Backlash Over Comments Made to Venus and Serena Williams at Critics' Choice Awards

"The Power of the Dog" director Jane Campion didn’t give the most winning acceptance speech at the 2022 Critics' Choice Awards, with some calling her message to Venus and Serena Williams "dismissive"

Jane Campion, right, came under social media fire when the director made a comment to Venus and Serena Williams, left, during her acceptance speech for Best Director at the Critics Choice Awards.
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Jane Campion's acceptance speech for Best Director at the 2022 Critics' Choice Awards has evoked an adverse reaction online, with some users calling her comments "unnecessary."

During the March 13 awards ceremony, the 67-year-old filmmaker nabbed the award for her 2021 film, "The Power of the Dog." And although the director began her speech by thanking her fellow nominees, Campion also turned her attention to tennis stars Venus Williams and Serena Williams, whose lives were the basis for the movie, "King Richard," another nominated film.

"Venus and Serena, you're such marvels," Campion said. "However, you don't play against the guys, like I have to."

Her comments were met with applause from the in-person audience -- but received a completely different reaction from social media once her speech circulated online.

"In one fell swoop she managed to 1) diminish the racism and sexism Venus and Serena faced from the beginning of their careers till now," film critic Carolyn Hinds tweeted, adding that Campion dismissed "the blood, sweat and tears they've shed to EARN the awards and accolades they've received. And for what purpose? To prop herself up?"

2022 Critics Choice Awards Red Carpet

Other users echoed that sentiment, highlighting the historic careers of both tennis players. "The arrogance and ignorance of Jane Campion," sports editor Gene Farris wrote. "Anyone who knows anything about Venus and Serena's careers wouldn't think to utter something this stupid and insulting."

Over the weekend, the "Power of the Dog" director made headlines when she was praised for her response to Sam Elliott, who had called her Western drama a "piece of s--t" in a recent interview with Marc Maron.

"I'm sorry, he was being a little bit of a B-I-T-C-H," she told Variety ahead of the 74th annual DGA Awards on Saturday, March 12. "I'm sorry to say it but he's not a cowboy, he's an actor."

As of March 14, neither Venus nor Serena have publicly responded to Campion's comments.

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