After this week’s news that Scarlett Johansson will assume the lead role in the live-action adaptation of ‘Ghost in the Shell’, Hollywood has been accused of ‘whitewashing’ with its casting choice.
Once the ongoing rumour of Scarlett Johansson’s involvement was finally made official, it was met with mixed opinion, with the opposing crowd denouncing the decision to cast the white American actress in the role of Motoko Kusanagi, who is clearly Japanese in the cult animated films.
A number of outraged fans and media outlets tweeted their disgust, branding the casting choice “racist”.
For example, US Entertainment site HitFix wrote: Gotta say, we’re not too happy with Scarlett Johansson as the lead in ‘Ghost in the Shell’.
Buzzfeed’s Ryan Broderick sarcastically put up a picture of ‘Pacific Rim’ star Rinko Kikuchi (see below): “Yeeup, Scarlett Johanssen is definitely the best actress for Ghost In The Shell. Cannot think of another.”
The term ‘whitewashing’ has reared its ugly head in relation to other recent films, such as Ridley Scott’s ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’ and ‘Pan’, where the decision to change non-white characters into white ones has sparked controversy.
The issue with ‘Ghost in the Shell’ is that the character of Motoko Kusanagi (see above) is not only Japanese, but the story is set in Japan too. Therefore having Johansson plonked into the narrative as its protagonist may seem a little out of place – assuming the original setting and plot are retained for the reboot.
Sure, Johansson’s one of the most sought-after working actors at the moment, with her recurring role of Black Widow in the Marvel universe and lead in action thriller ‘Lucy’, it therefore make her a strong candidate, but is she the right choice?
Personally, I can see why the casting has proved controversial, but the end results will, nonetheless, be extremely interesting.
Picture credits: WENN, Production I.G.