Following Scarlett Johansson’s casting as the lead in DreamWorks Pictures’ live-action “Ghost in the Shell” adaptation, a number of fans expressed disappointment in the apparent whitewashing of the manga’s lead character. One such fan has taken action and, as reported on by Anime News Network, has launched a petition calling for Johansson to be replaced in the film.
The petition, which can be seen at Care2 Petitions, has received nearly 32,500 signatures since its launch. In the overview section, petition author Julie Rodriguez explains why she finds Johansson’s casting problematic.
The original film is set in Japan, and the major cast members are Japanese. So why would the American remake star a white actress? The industry is already unfriendly to Asian actors without roles in major films being changed to exclude them. One recent survey found that in 2013, Asian characters made up only 4.4% of speaking roles in top-grossing Hollywood films.
Dreamworks could be using this film to help provide opportunities for Asian-American actors in a market with few opportunities for them to shine — please sign the petition asking them to reconsider casting Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell and select actors who are truer to the cast of the original film!
This is not the first time controversy has emerged regarding the casting of white actors in Asian roles. M. Night Shyamalan’s big screen adaptation of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” was met with much disapproval from the Nickelodeon series’ fans as well as creators because it cast non-Asian actors in all of the primary protagonist roles. Johansson was first rumored for the role back in October when her name surfaced in connection with the film alongside “Focus” star Margot Robbie. Johansson officially signed on as the lead in January and the film eventually snagged an April 14, 2017 release date.
Johansson can next be seen as Black Widow in this May’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”