Sexist On 'Mad Men' Is Apparently A Jerk In Real Life, Reporter Says
A Buzzfeed reporter bravely wrote a frank account of her interview with actor Paul Johansson, who she says turned out to be just as much of a sexist jerk in real life as he is on Mad Men.
Paul Johansson is a guy who plays jerks. As Ferg Donnelly on Mad Men, he harasses Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks) so much that she quits her job, thus derailing her career. He also played a scumbag in One Tree Hill, and one of his first major gigs was playing a jerk in 90210.
When editorial assistant Susan Cheng met Johansson at Buzzfeed's Los Angeles office, she said it was for a photoshoot that was focusing on just how many times Johansson had been cast as a jerk, Buzzfeed reports.The piece is a series of reaction .gifs to workplace annoyances that can be found here. She said she met the actor and his publicist, Cheryl McClean, at the office's studio, where she was joined by three coworkers, all of whom happened to be women.
Johansson's weird behavior began when he asked one of the women why she was so tan, which parlayed into banter about playing tennis. Cheng said that Johansson ended up telling the woman he’d win by serving the ball “right down your throat” and something about taking the woman back to his cave and putting her on her back. Cheng noted that this happened before any cameras were rolling.
Cheng then said the actor put his arm around her while she was trying to talk to him about some of the things they'd be shooting. Later, while actually shooting, he noted that he was getting warm under the studio lights by saying, "I'm sweating like a rapist." That little quip did get caught on camera, Cheng said.
Later, she said Johansson asked her if she ever took people into particular room and made out with them while she escorted him out of the office.
While Cheng uncomfortably brushed this all off when it happened and even ended up publishing the first segment of her interview with Johansson, she later decided to speak out.
I know far worse things have been said and done than what Johansson said and did that day. But his conduct is common in a Hollywood culture that puts young women in positions where they can be easily manipulated or harassed by older men. What's worse, that culture also discourages those women from speaking out and continues to reward the men accused of committing such offenses, as recent events have indicated.
Her 'recent events' comment links to a story about Woody Allen.
Cheng ended up emailing Johansson's publicist, asking to talk to him about how he acted that day. She received a letter from the actor's lawyer, Andrew B. Brettler. Brettler denied that his client was inappropriate, though did not deny many of the things Cheng alleged he'd said. He also accused Cheng of trying to "exploit" the media buzz surrounding the finale of Mad Men. He said his other comments were taken out of context. We're not sure in what context saying you were "sweating like a rapist" would be appropriate.
Cheng went on to say that Johansson was far from the first man to make her feel uncomfortable in Hollywood. Kristen Stewart just called Hollywood 'disgustingly sexist.' Ellen Page said the sexism in Hollywood was 'constant.' However, Cheng also means just the simple act of being in Hollywood, not the film industry but the neighborhood in which she works.
This happens every time I walk through Hollywood, and l think to myself, Maybe if I maintain a blank expression and walk a little faster, the man on the street will stop staring and hollering at me. A few years ago, my best friend and I were trying to explain to her boyfriend how it feels to be catcalled and objectified by men, how defenseless we feel in that moment, why it’s degrading, why “just walking away” doesn't make us feel better, and how the only way to win is by screaming, swearing, and "out-crazying" them.
Silence, she decided, was not the answer.