Ghost in the Shell comes to theaters in March, and its journey to theaters has met with controversy. The source material is a wildly popular manga series first published in 1989. People were annoyed when Scarlett Johansson was cast as the lead character, Major Motoko Kusanagi.
Accusations of whitewashing were made when this photograph was released. “Nothing against Scarlett Johansson. In fact, I’m a big fan. But everything against this Whitewashing of Asian role,” tweeted Ming-Na Wen, an actor best known for her work on S.H.I.E.L.D. and Mulan. “This casting is not only the erasure of Asian faces but a removal of the story from its core themes,” commented comic writer Jon Tsuei.
Johansson has commented on the controversial casting in an interview with Marie Claire. “I certainly would never presume to play another race of a person,” she said. “Diversity is important in Hollywood, and I would never want to feel like I was playing a character that was offensive.”
Johansson said she was excited about the part, as a woman. “Having a franchise with a female protagonist driving it is such a rare opportunity,” she said. “Certainly, I feel the enormous pressure of that — the weight of such a big property on my shoulders.”
The actor said her box office appeal doesn’t give her a leg up: “Just because I’m the top-grossing actress of all time does not mean I’m the highest-paid,” she pointed out. I’ve had to fight for everything that I have. It’s such a fickle and political industry.”
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