Friday, April 15, 2016

Topic Of The Day: "Ghost In The Shell" Whitewashing

Hello, Bloggers. Welcome to another episode of Topic Of The Day. For today's topic, we will continue the discussion of Hollywood whitewashing by bringing up the upcoming Ghost In The Shell starring Scarlett Johansson which is another victim of this trend that is still going on.

When a still of Scarlett Johansson in costume surfaced on the Internet, the film started trending on Twitter yet for the wrong reasons. Now for those of you who don't know, Ghost In The Shell is based off of a Japanese manga and Scarlett Johansson will be playing the main character of the manga named Motoko. Today, I even found out that the VFX team is making the film's white actors appear Asian. Not the kind of publicity you want in the midst of this controversy.

Before I go any further, I'll just say that I'm not wagging fingers at Scarlett Johansson. I don't blame her. Acting is like any other job. You go where the money is. The bigger evil is the studios that don't seem to be getting the message. By message, I mean, the backlash over the whitewashed casting in films like Aloha, Pan, and Exodus: Gods and Kings. All films bellyflopped at the box office and were critically panned. Even if the whitewashing wasn't THE reason these films crashed and burned, it certainly did not help.

Granted this has always been a problem, going back to the days of when John Wayne played Genghis Khan, Laurence Olivier donned blackface to play Othello, and so on and so forth. But guys, it's 2016!

Look at how we have actors like Viola Davis, Taraji P. Henson, Rami Malek, Aziz Ansari, Mindy Kaling, and Gina Rodriguez collecting accolades for headlining their own television shows. Heck, even Orange Is The New Black features Laverne Cox, the first openly transgendered woman to receive an Emmy nomination, in its main cast. So television is taking more steps to reflect different representations that view their content.

Some will probably leap to the studio's defense, saying "Maybe they got the best person for the role." I say that is not an excuse. There is Japanese talent out there. As I recall, wasn't Rinko Kikuchi nominated for an Oscar about ten years ago? See what she's up to. Chiaki Kuriyama had a brief spotlight with her role as Gogo Yubari in Kill Bill: Vol. 1. Give her another chance at it. The industry should be about taking chances. So why not take a chance on an unknown Japanese actress?

This whole controversy reminds me of when the first still of The Danish Girl surfaced onto the Internet where Eddie Redmayne dressed in drag and people were furious because a transgendered woman wasn't casted in the lead role. Again, that is a part of the message being sent to Hollywood: More representation.

I also want to point out that I'm not trying to be some hyper-sensitive Social Justice Warrior. It's just that as somebody who has a passion for film, representation is something that means a lot to me and I really want to see more of that.

So those are my thoughts on the whitewashed casting. Whether you agree or disagree, please be sure to write your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks for reading!