Scarlett Johansson’s casting in the forthcoming Ghost in the Shell feature film adaptation has, understandably, weathered some pushback. Not because she isn’t capable of handling a meaty part like Motoko Kusanagi with aplomb—we’re certain she is. Instead, this heat surrounds the studio’s employ of a white movie star to play a role that might have gone to a Japanese or Japanese-American actor.
As such, conflicted feelings surface as we take a look at the first image released from Ghost in the Shell, which has officially begun production. On the one hand, Hollywood whitewashing is no matter to take lightly. On the other, longtime fans will no doubt have trouble combatting just a bit of excitement over the opportunity to see the rich story take live action form for the first time. After all, Ghost in the Shell is one of the most popular mangas of all time.
On the one hand, Johansson is no stranger to playing crime fighters, artificially intelligent humanoids, or even residents of Japan. (Check: the Marvel movies, Her, and Lost in Translation, respectively.) Tagging along with the attitude-heavy ScarJo as she surveys the dark avenues of director Rupert Sanders‘ (doubtlessly beautifully designed) noir realm sounds like a hell of a chillingly good time.
On the other, the above image doesn’t do much to quell our guilt for sustained interest in the project. Further concerns arise resultant of a hair and makeup design aesthetic that seems like it’s trying to feign Asian characteristics. Hollywood may not be willing to fairly represent the Asian or Asian-American community, but it isn’t opposed to objectify—you might even say, to fetishize—its identity.
Back on the first hand, we wouldn’t begrudge anyone for still harboring excitement over Ghost in the Shell. Miscasting aside, Johansson is a screen presence to revel in. Director Sanders knows how to design a cinematic world, and needless to say, the material is prime for the big screen.
So where do you land? Are you still pumped about the movie, or has the whitewashing gone too far? Let us know!
HT: The Playlist
Image: Paramount Pictures