It’s 2016 and obviously Paramount Pictures couldn’t find an actual Asian to star in the live-action Ghost in the Shell anime series adaption — so Scarlett Johansson was the only viable option.
With the release date of March 31, 2017, the promotions are starting to roll out with the first look at Johansson as the Japanese hero. Like the Nina bio pic that’s also been accused of whitewashing, Ghost in the Shell is already receiving backlash.
Emma Stone’s schedule must have been full — this could have been her opportunity to play Asian again like that time she took on that role for a character who was Asian-American in Aloha. At least the writer-director Cameron Crowe apologized for dropping the ball on casting. This all happened in 2015.
So a year later, Hollywood is still making the same mistakes. Diversity and representation has been trending, there was a big boycott for the Academy Awards (remember #OscarsSoWhite?) and while more folks are getting on board with the necessary social change — the film industry is still behind.
Asian Joy Luck Club actress Ming-Na Wen took to Twitter to share her distaste of the whitewashed casting:
Nothing against Scarlett Johansson. In fact, I’m a big fan. But everything against this Whitewashing of Asian role.😒 https://t.co/VS6r6iish9
— Ming-Na Wen (@MingNa) April 14, 2016
At least Disney allowed an Asian actress to voice the Chinese character of Mulan, right? Some folks even provided excellent suggestions on the social media.
But nope — Johansson made the most sense to the people with the responsibility of casting. Paramount Pictures also brought us Breakfast At Tiffany’s back in 1961 and casted Mickey Rooney as the Japanese character of Mr. Yunioshi.
As we mentioned in our Representation is changing in film and television story, Hollywood is notorious for being a whitewashing industry. Back in 2014, University of Southern California Annenberg School of Journalism put out a report that sniffed out the racial representation of 3,932 speaking characters from top grossing films at the US box office between 2007-2013 — less than 4.5% were Asian. A few years later, we’re still waiting on change.
This of course isn’t a criticism of Johansson’s acting ability — she has nailed a ton of roles. This role of Major Motoko Kusanagi just isn’t hers to take.
The film is directed by Snow White and the Huntsman‘s Rupert Sanders.
Shame on you, Hollywood.
Image credit: Twitter