Scarlett Johansson and Dakota Fanning Each At The Helm Of Controversy

Published on September 6, 2019

It’s a bad week for white women in Hollywood as two of its shining stars are at the helm of their own controversies. Scarlett Johansson is facing backlash over voicing her support for Woody Allen despite his bad image after sexual abuse allegations against him surfaced back in 2014. Meanwhile, Dakota Fanning is facing criticism over her latest role in a film titled “Sweetness In The Belly,” which portrays Fanning as a young orphan that grew up Muslim and fled to England as an Ethiopian refugee.

Scarlett Johansson Seemingly Loves Controversy

It seems as if only weeks can go by in between controversies that surround Scarlett Johansson (though at least she can remember which films she’s worked on, we’ll give her that). In between making less than politically correct comments about issues of race and gender identity in film, Johansson seems to have missed the limelight and chosen to create another scandal. The actress said this week in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that she stands by Woody Allen despite the massive allegations presented against him by his own daughter, Dylan Farrow.

In the interview, Johansson said that she believes Allen is innocent and claims that she “would work with him anytime.” Johansson’s feelings on Allen seem to differ from many in the film industry, who have chosen to distance themselves and even gone so far as to express regret for working with an alleged sexual abuser. “I see Woody whenever I can, and I have had a lot of conversations with him about it. I have been very direct with him, and he’s very direct with me. He maintains his innocence, and I believe him,” she said in the interview, which was published to The Hollywood Reporter earlier this week.

Allen’s daughter, on the other hand, is less enthused by Johansson’s outright support for the disgraced filmmaker. Farrow, who alleged that her father sexually abused her when she was young, has spoken out against Allen repeatedly throughout the last decade. Most recently, the Los Angeles Times published an op-ed written by Farrow in 2017 that called upon Hollywood to speak up against Allen as an alleged abuser. In the wake of Johansson’s comments, Farrow took to Twitter to say that Johansson “has a long way to go,” when discussing matters of the #MeToo movement in Hollywood.

Dakota Fanning’s Controversy Over New Film

While Scarlett Johansson’s controversy may be a nightmare for her publicist, Dakota Fanning’s is simply the fault of the film industry itself. Fanning is facing criticism over her starring role in the new film “Sweetness In The Belly” in which she portrays a displaced orphan that grew up in Morocco and is raised Muslim before traveling to Ethiopia. There, she faces civil war and is sent to London where she faces feelings of displacement despite fitting in based on her appearance.

“The film is about what home means to people who find themselves displaced and the families and communities that they choose and that choose them,” Fanning wrote on her Instagram page in the wake of the controversy. The film first garnered negative attention when film critic Muhammad Britt took to Twitter to ask why a white woman was cast to play a role that discussed the plight of Ethiopian refugees. While the film was based on a book of the same name, its criticism highlights that many issues in the third world—particularly in Africa or considering the stories of people of color—have to be whitewashed to be considered palatable by mainstream Hollywood.

Julia Sachs is a former Managing Editor at Grit Daily. She covers technology, social media and disinformation. She is based in Utah and before the pandemic she liked to travel.

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