An article in today’s Los Angeles Times gives actress Scarlett Johansson’s take on the paparazzi:
“I get stalked by these people with giant cameras all the time when I’m doing my shopping or walking my dog,” she said. “I think it’s disgusting. Any picture you see of me in a magazine that is a candid is a complete and total invasion of my privacy.” Oy, thank God I resisted the temptation to take more pictures of her when she was in our house last month shooting “The Prestige.” And that the only photo I posted was of her back. I was standing right next to her in the catering tent while she was eating lunch and I had a brief moment where I considered snapping a photo with my cell phone. I’m grateful that human decency won out and I hereby put an end to my ten-minute career as a paparazzo.
Scarlett was in the news today in anticipation of designer Isaac Mizrahi’s stint as a red-carpet interviewer at the Oscars this Sunday. Apparently he caused quite a stir at the Golden Globes last month when he fondled Johansson’s breast. Mizrahi had asked the actress what she was wearing underneath her red dress. When she replied, “Not much,” Mizrahi cupped the star's breast in one hand and said, “It’s built in, I just wanna feel it. Oh, I just love that!” Yuck. Scarlett told the L.A. Times that she was more shocked than angry. “It was definitely in poor taste. I’d been prepping for two hours with hair and makeup and getting dressed. And the first interview I do, someone who I have never met before fondles me for his own satisfaction.” Mizrahi’s defenders point out that he is openly gay, as if that makes it okay. What’s next—Ellen DeGeneres interviewing George Clooney on the red carpet and grabbing his crotch? Am I becoming a prude? Losing my sense of humor? I just feel bad for these talented actresses who are constantly being defined by their physical attributes instead of their ability. And I’m still smarting from last year’s Oscars telecast in which Salma Hayek, Penelope Cruz, and Catherine Zeta-Jones were joked about in a way that only called attention to their racks.
Speaking of the Oscars, I remember being stunned when Oscar winner Adrien Brody bounded up to the stage to get his award and grabbed presenter Halle Berry into a deep, full-body kiss. She obviously made the right career choice to “go with it,” but wouldn’t she or Scarlett have been completely justified if they had slapped the living daylights out of their partners for their non-consensual moves? (They’ve been showing that Brody/Berry kiss a lot in the ads leading up to the Oscars and I will say that it was one hot smooch. At least professional actors can make such groping look more attractive.) Brody claimed he was just so excited he would have kissed anybody that way. Really? Even if Mel Gibson had been the presenter?
Scarlett turned beet red after Mizrahi’s ballsy move at the Golden Globes (this was after he asked Eva Longoria about her pubic hair and peered down Teri Hatcher’s dress). “Mostly, I was thinking, ‘Oh, my God. This is happening on live TV,”’ Johansson said, and she didn’t buy the designer’s explanation that he was trying to figure out how her dress was put together. “Like he doesn’t know how a dress works!”
I guess there’s no end to the indignities that actresses have to face, even in 2006. Just after the Golden Globes, Scarlett’s co-star from “Match Point,” Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, told a reporter that Johansson was very bashful during their sex scenes together. “I remember Scarlett telling me not to look at her tits,” Rhys-Meyers said. “But I did sneak a peek. I couldn’t help it, they were in my face.” And here I am repeating such eloquence. But as God as my witness, as of this moment, I declare a moratorium on any comments related to the body parts of talented actresses. (Oy, does that mean it’s okay to harass actresses if they’re not talented?)
For those who say that becoming an actor means giving up your right to privacy, Johansson begs to differ. She told the Times that she tries to maintain a low profile. Why shouldn’t she be allowed to do that? “I’m not out there to publicize my private life,” she said. “I try to avoid any situation where I might be harassed or followed.” True, Johansson appears nude on the cover of this month’s Vanity Fair by her own choice, but that doesn’t give anyone the right to grope her, does it? People who made reference to the Vanity Fair cover during the Mizrahi flap remind me of those lawyers who used to tell victims of sexual abuse that they “asked for it” by wearing suggestive clothing.
Scarlett Johansson isn’t attending the Oscars this year so there will be no repeat of her Mizrahi encounter. But she doesn't plan on avoiding him in the future. “I can take care of myself,” she said. “I’m from New York.”