Woman in street harassment video seeks $500K in lawsuit
New York — A woman who was the centerpiece of a video about street harassment has filed a lawsuit against its director and the organization that put it out.
Shoshana Roberts filed her lawsuit in Manhattan on Monday. According to the lawsuit, her performance and likeness were used for “advertising or trade without her prior written consent” and she’s seeking at least $500,000. The suit names director Rob Bliss and the anti-street harassment group that released the video, Hollaback!
The video compiled comments and catcalls that Roberts, who was dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, heard from men as she walked Manhattan streets over the course of 10 hours. Bliss walked in front of her with a camera in his backpack recording everything said to her as she went silently about her day.
“What’s up, Beautiful?” one man said to her.
“Smile!” another told her.
Roberts never made eye contact with or talked to any of the men she passed. That didn’t stop the comments from coming. When she didn’t respond, one man told her, “Somebody’s acknowledging you for being beautiful. You should say thank you more!”
The video, which received tens of millions of views online, spurred outrage and sparked conversations about street harassment. Roberts, an actress, had answered an ad and was tapped to be in the video.
Bliss didn’t reply to an email sent Thursday seeking comment on the lawsuit. A representative for Hollaback! said it hadn’t been served with the papers and declined to comment further.
The video was so popular that parodies of it were made. One of those was a commercial for the TGI Friday’s restaurant. Roberts named the restaurant in the lawsuit along with the company that made the ad, Google and YouTube. None of them replied to emails seeking comment.