The fans of the Ghost in the Shell anime have been waiting a long time for a big screen live action adaption of their favorite, so you would have thought that they would have been happy to hear that Scarlett Johansson was signed to star and production was moving forward.
Not so fast!
Ghost in the Shell is a series whose roots go back to post WWII Japan; exploring themes of identity, who we are, and that makes this white washing rather painful for fans. The central character is Major Motoko Kusanagi, member of anti-terrorism task force and a human whose suffered a traumatic injury as a child that forces her to use an android body, leaving her vulnerable to hackers who can bend her to their will. Sounds intriguing, but somehow I just see can’t Scarlett playing a Japanese character, and Ghost in the Shell is VERY Japanese.
The fans decided not to take this laying down, so they started a petition to get Scarlett replaced with someone truer to the material. Unfortunately the odds of them succeeding are pretty low, apparently it was the fact the Scarlett was willing to sign on that got this project out of production hell in the first place. Regular readers of this page already know how studio bosses fell about movies starring POC.
Good Magazine has a very well written article on the controversy and the history of white washing in Hollywood. I highly recommend it. While it’s probably too late for Ghost in the Shell, they point out that as long we raise a stink over casting white actors in POC roles, eventually Hollywood will catch a clue and maybe the next project that comes along won’t suffer the same fate.