The New Yorker has published an arts piece called “Her Again, The Unstoppable Scarlett Johansson” that praises the actress’s recent filmwork and dismisses the SodaStream incident– in which she had to resign from Oxfam because she had supported a company that builds seltzer-makers in the occupied West Bank– as a speedbump in the brilliant career. Or even a plus, for it pushed Johansson further into the limelight.
Johansson gave Anthony Lane an interview at the Waldorf Hotel in New York, and fluttered:
“I think I was put into a position that was way larger than anything I could possibly—I mean, this is an issue that is much bigger than something I could just be dropped into the middle of.”
Lane duly concludes that the starlet was “plausibly dumbfounded” over a “comic… farrago” that would only interest “the board of Moet and Chandon” (another product she endorses).
The actress could not have asked for more in her effort to put the embarrassment behind her. From the piece:
Then, in January, up popped SodaStream. Her promotion of the brand, which included an advertising spot during the Super Bowl, was deemed to clash with her position as a global ambassador for Oxfam. One of SodaStream’s main factories is in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank, and Oxfam is opposed to trade with the settlements. Given the impasse, Johansson resigned from the charity, leaving seltzer drinkers everywhere in an agony of ethical indecision. She issued a statement, lauding working conditions in the SodaStream factory and the company’s role in “building a bridge to peace between Israel and Palestine,” but this attempt at clarification made things messier still. Step back a little, and the whole farrago acquires a comic flavor, and Johansson sounds plausibly dumbfounded by her time at the heart of the storm: “I think I was put into a position that was way larger than anything I could possibly—I mean, this is an issue that is much bigger than something I could just be dropped into the middle of.” The only folk who relished the affair, I guess, were the board of Moët & Chandon, who could have told her, holding their noses, to stay away from inferior fizz.
Lane says the episode was a win for Johansson:
The effect of the SodaStream incident, like all controversies, was to push its subject ever farther into the limelight. Johansson is seldom out of it, whether she is performing, modelling, spraying scent about her person, or campaigning for the Democratic cause. As a long-term supporter of the Party, she was recruited, along with her voice, for a pro-Obama music video, in 2008, when the clarion call of “Yes We Can” was grooved into a song. There may be tribes, deep in the Amazon Basin, which have yet to be disturbed by illegal downloads of “Iron Man 2.” There could be aging monks, high in the Atlas Mountains, who have long since abjured the sins of the flesh and would rather not be reminded of them by spotting a copy of the Scarlett Johansson 2014 Calendar on the wall of a local store, especially the sweater-girl shot for Miss November. But just about everyone else is clued in.
Lane fails to mention the pro-Palestinian movement that created this controversy; the BDS (boycott-divestment-sanctions) movement framed Johansson’s choice for her in the weeks before the Super Bowl, when the SodaStream ad appeared. Later Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu repeatedly praised Johansson in his speech to the Israel lobby group AIPAC, and in the context of BDS: Johansson was taking on the rising BDS movement, which he mentioned 18 times by name. Not a comic farrago to him.
Yes I know I know we have tunnel vision on this site. But we can excuse ourselves because of the mainstream’s blindness.
Thanks to Max Blumenthal.