Scarlett Johansson suing Disney — biting the hand that has been feeding her career for the past decade — was a surprise. But the way the corporation responded was the real shocker.
In case you missed it, ScarJo is suing Disney for breach of contract over the simultaneous streaming home release of Black Widow. According to her legal filing, her contract promised an exclusively theatrical run, and her total pay was based on the box office performance. Because the distributor didn’t hold up their side — instead also streaming the film as a $30 rental on Disney+ — she says they cost her around $50 million in bonuses.
After news of the lawsuit dropped, the Mouse House went right for the jugular — which, for a celeb, is bad PR. In a statement that made us do a double take, they accused the Avengers Endgame star of being some kind of ice queen who didn’t care there was a pandemic. They wrote:
“There is no merit whatsoever to this filing. The lawsuit is especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
They also made a point of playing up the salary she had already made on the film — saying streaming would make her more “on top of the $20M she has received to date.” We don’t know about you, but we completely read that as an implication she was being greedy — as in, what, $20 mil isn’t enough??
We weren’t the only ones who thought Disney went too far, past the law and straight into personal attack.
Multiple women’s groups have partnered up to defend ScarJo, and more to the point women in general, from these kinds of personal attacks. In a joint statement, Time’s Up, ReFrame, and Women In Film stated:
“While we take no position on the business issues in the litigation between Scarlett Johansson and the Walt Disney Company, we stand firmly against Disney’s recent statement which attempts to characterize Johansson as insensitive or selfish for defending her contractual business rights.”
Same! We do NOT pretend to know what’s going on with contract law — but where we do have an advanced degree is in celebrity feuds, and these were some fighting words.
The statement further accused Disney of sexism, saying:
“This gendered character attack has no place in a business dispute and contributes to an environment in which women and girls are perceived as less able than men to protect their own interests without facing ad hominem criticism.”
Inneresting. While they never specifically mention anything related to her gender, making her look unreasonable — when all she’s doing is taking legal action to protect her paycheck — is a pretty classic sexist move.
The personal attack in general is very strange for this kind of legal battle. You usually only see this kind of thing in a nasty divorce. The fact alone they decided to make it personal says quite a bit.
Do YOU think Disney’s statement was a “gendered” attack??
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