The Paramount Pictures' adaptation of the popular manga and anime Ghost in the Shell has been the subject of unhappy reviews due to the production's decision to use a very much white actress to play the role of a very much Japanese cyborg in a story that takes place in 21st Century Japan.
Yes, the official first-look image released by Paramount on April 14 features Scarlett Johansson dressed up as Major Motoko Kusanagi. The photo did its job and captured the attention of fans and news outlets alike, but most of the comments it received raised the issue of whitewashing in Hollywood.
Neither Johansson nor anyone from the production has responded to the negative comments over the first-look photo, but that does not stop fans from saying what is on their minds. Take a look at some of the comments below.
#GhostInTheShell was developed in JAPAN. The characters are JAPANESE. Being a cyborg doesn't make Motoko Kusanagi not JAPANESE.
— ferdosa (@ferdosa_) April 14, 2016
Heres the thing about the ScarJo casting in Ghost in the Shell, it's all about upholding this idea of white being palatable for the majority — Aiah Samba (@Dualityman81) April 14, 2016
Scarlett Johansson staring in "Ghost in the Shell"?! This isn't MARVEL. Stop with white washing already. — Aaron Toponce (@AaronToponce) April 14, 2016
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Agent May is also not too happy about the whitewashing issue.
Nothing against Scarlett Johansson. In fact, I'm a big fan. But everything against this Whitewashing of Asian role. https://t.co/VS6r6iish9
— Ming-Na Wen (@MingNa) April 14, 2016
As for the production, Paramount and DreamWorks Pictures only announced that the production of the Hollywood version of Ghost in the Shell is already underway in New Zealand.
"We are so pleased to be in Wellington to shoot Ghost in the Shell. ... The city boasts state-of-the-art production facilities and a rich urban landscape that make it an ideal setting for a sci-fi action film," Producers Ari Arad, Avi Arad, Michael Costigan and Jeffrey Silver said.
Yes, New Zealand is indeed the ideal place to shoot a film about Japan.
Scarlett Johansson has already shown versatility in the roles she played in her previous films so we really have nothing against her getting an awesome role – and she probably recognizes how amazing Major Kusanagi's role is, which is why she chose to audition for the part – but let us hope that, at the very least, the major themes of the internationally acclaimed story will remain intact.
Ghost in the Shell is an original story written and illustrated by Masamune Shirow and serialized in Kodansha Comics from 1989. It follows the protagonist Major Motoko Kusanagi, a cyborg who leads Public Security Section 9, the unit assigned to track down and seize the Puppet Master.
In the adaptation, however, Kusanagi and Public Security Section 9 will be coming after the Laughing Man, which will be played by Michael Pitt.
Ghost in the Shell, the Hollywood version, is slated for release on March 31, 2017.