A Few Thoughts on Scarlett Johansson

Happy 4th of July everyone!

When I’m done with this quick post, I’m going to continue work on my current novel and try to bring it across the finish line.  Later, I’ll fire up the barbecue.  Fireworks may be lit today, somewhere.  I’m not sure yet.

Before I can do any of that, I need to get some thoughts out of my head, just to free up some brain cells so I can write something creative.  I’m seeing tons of interesting memes and criticism directed at Scarlett Johansson for taking on the role of a “trans-man” in an upcoming film.  This is after the criticism directed towards her for playing Motoko in Ghost in the Shell.

There’s a lot to talk about here.  Let’s start with some basics.

I put “trans-man” in quotes because the “trans” part is unnecessary.  It doesn’t matter if a person was born female.  If they’re a man now, they’re a man.  I’m going to treat them with respect regardless, using the pronouns that are best for them.  I’m not going to treat them any differently than I would treat any other man or woman.  I think other people should do the same, and not get so hung up on trivial differences.

People wouldn’t care as much if Scarlett Johansson had been cast to play a man in a movie.  It’s an interesting choice, but we wouldn’t be getting out the pitch forks out and lighting torches.  Women have occasionally played male roles for generations.  Look at Peter Pan.

My next point is in regards to her part in Ghost in the Shell.  She received a lot of criticism in the US for taking that part.  There were Asian actors that could have been cast.  What an outrage that Scarlett Johansson should participate in white washing!

The thing is, only the US had a problem with it.  Here is an article talking about Asian audiences and their reaction to the movie.  And anotherAnd anotherAnd another.

Japanese audiences thought the plot was too shallow, and many thought Scarlett Johansson was the best part of the movie.  Many went to see the film specifically because she was in it, and they were fans of her previous work.

That brings me to the most important point: Scarlett Johansson puts butts in theater seats.

I’m betting that without using Google, very few of us can think of a male actor working in Hollywood that used to be female.  The criticism leveraged at Scarlett Johansson for her role in Ghost in the Shell was that she wasn’t Asian.  Is the criticism now that the actor should be a reflection of the character portrayed?

There probably is a male actor that would fit the part.  Let’s say they cast him instead of ScarJo.  What happens to the movie?

The reality is that it goes into obscurity.  Whoever they select isn’t going to have the star power that ScarJo wields.  There would be nothing controversial about the casting, the movie would probably get a small release, and no one would see it.

If the idea is to get people to see the movie and get more people familiar and comfortable with people that were born one gender and transitioned to the one that’s right for them, then ScarJo is a solid choice.

One final thought: Scarlett Johansson is an actor.  That’s her job.  I doubt she’s going out and looking for controversial parts.  If you must be angry at someone, figure out who her agent is and direct your angry thoughts their way.  Just remember that your time is probably better spent finding some other way to make the world a better place.  Maybe there’s a charity you can donate to instead of criticizing an actor for accepting work.