INSENSITIVE CASTING DEJA VU: SCARLETT JOHANSSON IS RETEAMING WITH THE GHOST IN THE SHELL" DIRECTOR, THIS TIME PLAYING A TRANS MAN
Here we go again! Scarlett Johansson is making waves and headlines again by accepting a role in the upcoming Rub & Tug playing a trans man.
She’s reuniting with Ghost In the Shell director Rupert Sanders for the film, which makes me ask several questions:
1) Independent of the gross racial insensitivity /racism of casting her in the first place in Ghost In the Shell, that film was flat out BAD.
2) After all the backlash involved you’d think the two of them would get better PR people…
Which leads me to:
3. What sort of bullshit “well this is how it’s been” response from ScarJo's rep is:
“Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.”
Do you really want to lump yourself in with Jeffrey Tambor, who was not only fired from his show about a male to female trans character on Transparent, but most recently has drawn heat for being a dick to his Arrested Development co-star Jessica Walter?
Just because trans roles have historically gone to cis gender actors/actresses doesn’t make it okay. It’s the same logic that enrages me about the Ghost In the Shell casting argument. You cannot on the one hand say “well there’s no one famous enough of xyz status (be it racial, sexual orientation, gender etc) to play this role” but refuse to cast anyone of said status in any sort of part, thus preventing them from rising to the fame level required to be cast in a leading role in a larger movie.
While I don’t think it should be a hard and fast rule that gay actors must play gay roles, or trans actors must be cast in trans roles, Johansson and Sanders display an utter lack of sensitivity by deflecting. They could have used a more roundabout argument in that the protagonist of the film, Jean Marie Gill. Jean Marie Gill ran a series of illicit massage parlors and became a drug kingpin, and presented male but hadn’t technically transitioned. Not that it would make it okay to use this as an excuse, but it might have garnered less negative attention, yet instead they chose to dig their heels in again.
Sure, the point of an actor is to disappear into a role, but there’s a rising level of frustration at Hollywood’s inability or unwillingness to look for new talent who doesn’t fit a cis gender white mold (yes we’re seeing some gains on the minority fronts, but it’s slow going). This, much like Ghost In the Shell, would have been a brilliant opportunity to give some up and coming trans talent a chance to shine.
Also, don’t tell me there aren’t brilliant trans actors out there either, because if you’ve been watching Pose on FX you’ll see a cast of previously unknown trans actors knocking your socks off every week.
Either way given the pair’s previous cinematic outing, I have the lowest of the low expectations for the film.
The latest interviews, reviews, and opinions on film by Dana Han-Klein. Thoughts and opinions are entirely my own and not reflective of my employer or any third parties.