The Major may be a cutting-edge cyborg capable of taking down even the most dangerous criminals, but even she's no match for the withering disdain of the internet.
Ever since Paramount shared the first image of Scarlett Johansson as the Major in Ghost in the Shell, the film's been under fire for its decision to whitewash the lead role, who is Japanese in the source material. So when the studio launched a viral campaign encouraging people to upload their own images and captions into a meme generator, some fed-up fans seized the opportunity to make their displeasure known.
Honestly, it's surprising Paramount didn't see this coming. These crowdsourcing campaigns rarely go well — Exhibit A: Boaty McBoatface — and that goes double when a pre-existing controversy is involved.
Twitter user Valerie Complex got the ball rolling with some pointed commentary about the casting of Johansson over other, more appropriate choices like Rinko Kikuchi (the internet's fan-cast of choice for the role).
— VzA (@ValerieComplex) March 11, 2017
Others quickly joined in under the hashtag #IAmMajor.
— Pink Veronica 🏳️🌈 (@riotgrrlriot) March 13, 2017
— David Lo Pun-ch Nazi (@helpmeskeletor) March 12, 2017
Speaking to Mashable, Complex explained why the Ghost in the Shell viral campaign rubbed her the wrong way — and why she decided to do something about it.
Of course, Ghost in the Shell isn't the only recent picture to co-opt Asian culture while downplaying or erasing Asian characters. People also used the meme generator to blast other examples of whitewashing, cultural appropriation and white saviors in Hollywood.
Marvel's Iron Fist, which has been slammed for (among other things) its queasy racial dynamics, was a target for the internet's scorn. As was Marvel's Doctor Strange, which famously cast Tilda Swinton as a character who is Asian in the comics.
— David Lo Pun-ch Nazi (@helpmeskeletor) March 11, 2017
— Wei Ming Kam (@weimingkam) March 12, 2017
And let's not forget the time Emma Stone played a part-Asian character in Cameron Crowe's Aloha.
— VzA (@ValerieComplex) March 12, 2017
There's a lot more sass where that came from. The fact that Hollywood somehow still can't wrap their heads around this issue is tragic.
Ghost in the Shell is in theaters March 31.