Scarlett Johansson reacts to criticism playing trans, Asian roles

Scarlett Johansson responds to criticism against her playing trans male and Asian roles | Ghost in the Shell | Rub & Tug.

July 14, 2019 by Jessie Mendoza

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The world’s highest-paid actress of 2019, Scarlett Johansson (age 34), responded to the casting controversies she faced the past few years, in a recent interview.

After a massive backlash in 2018 from trans actors and queer activists, Scarlett Johansson withdrew from playing the role of a transgender (trans) male in a drama film titled “Rub & Tug” (as of this writing, there are no reports if the said movie will ever go in production after Scarlett Johansson exited).

In light of recent ethical questions raised surrounding my casting as Dante Tex Gill, I have decided to respectfully withdraw my participation in the project.

Our cultural understanding of transgender people continues to advance, and I’ve learned a lot from the community since making my first statement about my casting and realize it was insensitive.

I have great admiration and love for the trans community and am grateful that the conversation regarding inclusivity in Hollywood continues.

According to GLAAD, LGBTQ+ characters dropped 40% in 2017 from the previous year, with no representation of trans characters in any major studio release.

While I would have loved the opportunity to bring Dante’s story and transition to life, I understand why many feel he should be portrayed by a transgender person, and I am thankful that this casting debate, albeit controversial, has sparked a larger conversation about diversity and representation in film.

I believe that all artists should be considered equally and fairly.

My production company, These Pictures, actively pursues projects that both entertain and push boundaries. We look forward to working with every community to bring these most poignant and important stories to audiences worldwide.

Meanwhile, back in 2015, there was criticism as well against Scarlett Johansson playing the role of an Asian woman, Major Motoko Kusanagi, in the live-action adaptation of Masamune Shirow’s manga series “The Ghost in the Shell”. The movie is titled “Ghost in the Shell”.

The “Ghost in the Shell” movie has a predominantly Asian cast, but many questioned why the studio didn’t choose an ethnically appropriate actor as the lead.

Chinese-American actress Ming-Na Wen took to Twitter to voice her opinion:

Nothing against Scarlett Johansson. In fact, I’m a big fan. But everything against this Whitewashing of Asian role.

– Ming-Na Wen via Twitter

Scarlett Johansson has stayed quiet for awhile, but on her recent interview with David Salle for As If magazine, she isn’t thrilled that “political correctness” is controlling what actors like her can do and cannot do when choosing roles to portray.

Today there’s a lot of emphasis and conversation about what acting is and who we want to see represent ourselves on screen.

The question now is, what is acting anyway?

You know, as an actor, I should be allowed to play any person, or any tree, or any animal because that is my job and the requirements of the job.

David Salle then asked Scarlett Johansson:

Must you only represent yourself, your gender, your ethnicity, or can you, in fact, play beyond these categories?

Scarlett Johansson replied:

There are a lot of social lines being drawn now and a lot of political correctness is being reflected in art.

You know, I feel like it’s a trend in my business and it needs to happen for various social reasons, yet there are times it does get uncomfortable when it affects the art because I feel art should be free of restrictions.

Regarding people’s reactions to certain things in the arts, Scarlett Johansson said:

It’s important to keep focused on the work that is meaningful to you and to keep going.

Read the full interview of Scarlett Johansson here.

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