Times Up, ReFrame, and Women In Film have issued a joint statement today, voicing their support for actor Scarlett Johansson, and labeling Disney’s attempts to counter her recent lawsuit against the company as “a gendered character attack.” Although they make it clear that “We take no position on the business issues” addressed in the suit—in which Johansson alleges that Disney breached her contract by simultaneously releasing Black Widow in theaters and on its Disney+ streaming service, impacting her ability to profit from the film—the groups do “stand firmly against” the Disney statement released in response, which sought to paint Johansson as both greedy and insensitive for launching her complaint.
“This gendered character attack,” the joint statement continues, “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.”
And, honestly, that Disney response does remain both somewhat baffling and shockingly personal, calling the star’s suit “Especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.” (Fun tip: These statements become much funnier, if still also sort of weird and disingenuous, if you imagine them all being read in a Mickey Mouse voice.) One gets the sense that the company was, somewhat ham-fistedly, trying to leverage Johansson’s sometimes spotty reputation over the last few years in an attempt to manage the optics of the situation, going so far as to state that the actor has already received $20 million for Black Widow, and isn’t that enough millions for one person to have? (Which is a pretty rich assertion, coming as it does from the all-consuming money maw of Disney.)
Johansson’s side issued their own counter-statement to that effect yesterday, accusing Disney of trying to “weaponize her success” by revealing her pay for the spy thriller. In a statement from agent Bryan Lourd, the Johansson camp claimed, “The company included her salary in their press statement in an attempt to weaponize her success as an artist and businesswoman, as if that were something she should be ashamed of,” and called the statement a “direct attack on [Johansson’s] character.”
So, yeah: Check for local traffic, because there are burning bridges all over the place today.