As society is becoming more and more diverse, movies are beginning to get criticized for their choices of casting. Especially for what is now called “white washing”. What does this mean? It means that directors hire Caucasian looking actors to play Asian characters. It also applies for other races. Now, the live-action version of the famous Japanese manga series, “Ghost in the Shell” has been met with the same treatment. The reason? The casting of Scarlett Johansson as the main lead, who is supposed to be an Asian robot girl. And this movie is not the only one who had to deal with such accusations. Recently, “Doctor Strange” was accused of white washing when it had Tilda Swinton, a Caucasian actress, play the part of an Asian, male, character.
The trailer was just released
Yesterday, the first full length trailer for ‘Ghost in the Shell” was released. And it looks like a visual spectacle, to say the least. Effects, costumes, CGI, everything is there. Of course, for someone who is not a fan of the manga, it may look like a bland excuse for using advanced effects to create spectacular visuals. But the movie, if it will follow the story of the manga, should be much more than that.
A “ghost” inside a robot
But what is “Ghost in the shell” about? Well, it follows the story of Motoko Kusanagi, or “Major”. She is actually a human brain implanted into a “shell”, which is an artificial body. Like a robot that can be repaired and programmed, with a prosthetic, human-like body. The action takes place in a technologically advanced future and it sometimes deals with the issues of human consciousness and what it is.
The idea is that Major is a highly intelligent being, who is not defined by a body, but by her mind. Actually, the body she has now is one of the many existing in the world, as it is a very popular model. This helps her with missions and makes it easier for her to blend in. It is unknown if her real name is Motoko or if she is really a female inside her brain. She just appears to be one.
Why Scarlett Johansson?
It may be because in such a complex and visually stunning movie, you need someone who is experienced. There are not many Japanese actresses who have the screen experience of Johansson. Also, if you think about it, “Ghost in the Shell” is not “Star Wars”. Or “The Matrix”, or anything else which is extremely well-known to the audience. And the studio needed someone to attract newcomers. And who else if not Scarlett Johansson? Girls will be inspired by her, while guys will come to watch her. It is a win-win situation.
All in all, it is understandable for the people to wish to see on the screen an actor who resembles the image in their heads. The same goes with book adaptations, or video game ones. Jake Gyllenhaal in “Prince of Persia” was a Caucasian who played a Persian prince. It wasn’t needed, but it brought the studio money. And for them, this is all that matters. So fans should start expecting these kinds of changes. It is not about disrespecting a race or another. The movie just needs to sell. And if the main actor also does a really good job at portraying the character, I think everyone will be happy.
“Ghost in the Shell” hits theater in March, 2017.
Image source: here