Website axes column defending Scarlett Johansson over 'trans' movie casting

Ben Arnold
Scarlett Johansson (Credit: EFE)

Business Insider axed an op-ed piece by a conservative columnist, after its writer defended Scarlett Johansson for taking the lead role in forthcoming movie Rub & Tug.

Daniella Greenbaum said Johansson was merely ‘doing her job’ as an actress in taking the part of Dante ‘Tex’ Gill, a mob-connected brothel owner in the 70s.

Gill was a gay woman who dressed as a man in suits and ties, and who ran massage parlours as a front for prostitution in Pittsburgh.

But Johansson has been pilloried for taking the role, which some think should have gone to a transgender actor.

“She has been cast in a movie in which she will play someone different than herself,” wrote Greenbaum.

“For this great crime — which seems to essentially define the career path she has chosen — she is being castigated for being insufficiently sensitive to the transgender community.

“The job of an actor is to represent someone else. Johansson’s identity off the screen is irrelevant to the identities she plays on the screen. That’s what she’s paid for. And if she does her job, she’ll make everyone forget about the controversy in the first place.”

However several staff at Business Insider told The Daily Beast that they were offended by the remarks, with the column also receiving criticism elsewhere online.

It was taken down on Tuesday, replaced with a message from publishers reading: “Business Insider removed the column because, upon further review, we decided it did not meet our editorial standards.”

An email to Business Insider’s editors from editor-in-chief Nich Carlson was also later seen by The Daily Beast.

“Editors should make sure we are not publishing shallow ‘hot takes,’ but instead, fully thought-out arguments that reflect and respect the opposing view,” it read.

“There should be no partisan name-calling, e.g. ‘social justice warriors,’ ‘libtards,’ or ‘rednecks.’ Opinion and arguments should feel reported and researched, and not like quick reactions.

“This does not mean our argument-writers should not take big swings, or that they must have opinions shared by everyone in our newsroom.”

Following the casting announcement for Snow White and the Huntsman director Rupert Sanders’ movie, Johansson defended herself.

In a statement from her reps, she said: “Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.”

All three actors have played transgender roles in movies or on TV, Tambor and Leto receiving Emmy and Academy awards for their performances in Transparent and Dallas Buyers Club.

Johansson also came under fire after Sanders’ previous movie Ghost In The Shell, which was accused of ‘white-washing’ roles from the original Manga on which the movie was based.

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