Whitewashing

Image of Scarlett Johansson in costume for “Ghost in the Shell” reignites debate

Scarlett Johansson in “GHOST IN THE SHELL.” (Paramount Pictures)

The first image of Scarlett Johansson as cyborg police officer Major Kusanagi in Hollywood’s remake of classic Japanese anime Ghost in the Shell hit the web on Thursday, reigniting a debate on Twitter over Hollywood “whitewashing” that began the moment her casting was announced. High-profile critics of the image included actor Ming-Na Wen, who portrays Melinda May in TV show Agents of SHIELD and famously played the voice of Disney’s Mulan. “Nothing against Scarlett Johansson. In fact, I’m a big fan. But everything against this whitewashing of Asian role,” she wrote.

California-based comic book writer Jon Tsuei wrote that Hollywood failed to grasp the impact of Ghost in the Shell on Asian culture, and that changing the race of the character not only served as “erasure of Asian faces but a removal of the story from its core themes.” Others chimed in with suggestions of east Asian Hollywood actors who could have been cast, including Pacific Rim star Rinko Kikuchi.

Last year, campaigners angered by a lack of roles for east Asian actors in Hollywood launched a petition calling for Johansson to be dismissed from the remake. To date, the petition has attracted over 65,000 signatures.

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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