‘Ghost in the Shell’ responded to Scarlett Johansson backlash in the worst possible way

Deputy Entertainment Editor
04.15.16

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I”m going to preface this by saying this: it is 2016. I had to double-check the calendar, because of this story but yep. It”s definitely 2016!

Yesterday, Paramount Pictures released the first photo of Scarlett Johansson as “the Major” in the upcoming live-action adaptation of Ghost in the Shell. Originally released in 1995, GITS broke through barriers in the West, becoming the first anime to reach Billboard”s #1 video slot. It was also critically acclaimed, hailed as a feat of modern animation. Fans had been waiting a long time for a live-action version, but the casting of Johansson has been a sticking point. You see, Scarlett Johansson is white.

There is a long history of adapting films from other cultures, keeping the essence of the story but changing it for the local audience. For example, the upcoming remake of The Magnificent Seven is a wild west take on the film Seven Samurai. But The Magnificent Seven aren”t going around calling themselves Kambei, Gorobei, and the rest of the warriors. It”s been adapted for Americans. So there was an argument being made that perhaps GITS would be set in America, that Johansson”s name was ‘the Major” and not Motoko Kusanagi.

Based on new information first reported by Screencrush, that is not the case.

According to multiple independent sources close to the project, Paramount and DreamWorks commissioned visual effects tests that would”ve altered Scarlett Johansson in post-production to “shift her ethnicity” and make the Caucasian actress appear more Asian in the film.

Screencrush goes on to report the tests were immediately scrapped once complete, and official Paramount reps deny Johansson was ever the subject of said tests (though they DO admit to them).

Based on the timeline presented, GITS knew it had a whitewashing backlash problem as far back as when casting was announced in January of 2015. So, in an attempt to quell incensed fans yet rescue their $10 million investment in Johansson, they turned to digital yellowface? I mean, I guess at least they didn”t go through with it?

Okay yeah, triple checked. Still 2016.

Ghost in the Shell arrives in theaters in 2017.

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