Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.
Se Pasó is a daily opinion column where Vivianna tackles entertainment, news, and pop culture with her bold and fearless voice. In other words, she says exactly what you are thinking.
Scarlett Johansson has been casted as Major Motoko Kusanagi in the Paramount/DreamWorks adaptation of Japanese anime hit Ghost in the Shell, and folks are NOT happy about it. The film has triggered accusations of "whitewashing" along with a serious wave of criticism throughout social media. The issue people are having is that the character Major is supposed to be Japanese, and Johansson is clearly not Japanese. The backlash only got worse after the image of her wearing a short black wig for the role hit the Internet.
After the controversy broke, screenwriter Max Landis released a video response in regards to the casting. "The only reason to be upset about Scarlett Johansson being in Ghost in the Shell is if you don't know how the movie industry works," he said. He claimed that casting Johansson had nothing to do with "whitesplaining or mansplaining" and went on to explain how casting isn't up to the director, actress, or the film industry. "As recently as about 10 years ago, there stopped being big stars. There are fewer and fewer stars who mean anything."
So basically actresses like Johansson help get movies made and actually seen. I get it. And sure maybe there aren't any internationally recognized "A-list Japanese actresses" in Hollywood right now, but this only highlights a greater issue. I'm pretty sure there are plenty of talented Japanese actresses out there, why aren't they getting into Hollywood and landing roles like this?
Comic writer Jon Tsuei took to Twitter to express his disappointment at Johansson playing Major. We only included a few of the best tweets he posted, but he went ham.
Tsuei's issue is that Ghost in the Shell is set in Japan at a time when the country was considered the world leader in technology. As a result he feels that this film is a Japanese story, not a universal one which would explain why him and many others don't think it makes sense for a white woman like Johansson play the part. By "Westernizing" the story it will no longer be the same story, it will no longer be Ghost in The Shell, and that's a fair argument.
The fact that this film required the face of a white American actress in order to get made and taken seriously in Hollywood speaks volumes about the film industry and the lack of diversity within it. Because the truth is if it's about making a recognizable American actress the star of a film, then yes chances are that actress will likely be white. But that's precisely the problem. Hollywood needs to get to a place where we have recognizable actors of all races and backgrounds so we no longer need to depend on whiteness to get movies made.