Al Jazeera’s Puny Controversy Over Scarlett Johansson and Sodastream
The news that Scarlett Johansson was representing the Israeli firm SodaStream caused Al Jazeera to call it a controversy—based on four tweets.
What if you try to create a celebrity scandal and no one listens?
Such was the case on Al Jazeera’s blog “The Stream,” which reacted to the news that Scarlett Johansson had been named the “global brand ambassador” of Israeli carbonation company SodaStream by latching onto the potentially ideal recipe for outrage—a Hollywood A-lister plus the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—with an article on Monday entitled “Criticism as Scarlett Johansson becomes new face of SodaStream.”
The only problem? Amid the dozens of articles about Johansson's partnership with the fizzy water company, there was virtually no mention of a bubbling critical movement.
“Actress Scarlett Johansson is catching heat for her recent partnership with Israeli beverage company SodaStream,” the article reads, citing nothing but four tweets as evidence of this growing controversy. The angry tweeters, two Canadian postal workers, one author, also Canadian, and one user whose last post was a retweet of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, were apparently enough to build an article.
The Israeli company faced scrutiny during its meteoric rise in popularity last year because its factory is located in an industrial park 15 minutes outside Jerusalem in a West Bank settlement called Ma’ale Adumim. The land is in what’s called “Area C,” on the line separating Israel and the Palestinian territories, but under Israeli control. SodaStream has addressed these criticisms in the past, lauding its record of high wages and benefits provided to the 500 West Bank Palestinians, 400 Arabs, and 200 Jews and foreign refugees employed. “We’re part of the solution,” CEO Daniel Birnbaum has said. “We build bridges, not walls.”
Advocates of the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement have pushed for consumers and retailers to stop buying SodaStream, saying it profits from the Israeli occupation and impedes chance for a future Palestinian state. Activists on the other side of the debate argue that it’s a boon for Palestinian workers’ rights and the West Bank economy, and fosters cultural unity in a work environment.
Whatever controversy surrounds the company, it’s unlikely to affect Johansson. The Her star is apparently a huge fan of SodaStream’s product and will star in the company’s upcoming Super Bowl ad—no matter what those four people on Twitter say.