Scarlett Johansson is officially taking charge of Public Security Section Nine. The anticipated adaptation of Ghost in the Shell began production April 14, 2016, in Wellington, New Zealand announced Dream Works and Paramount production.
Ghost in the Shell is a Japanese manga turned anime about Public Security Section Nine, a counter-cyberterrorist unit headed by a superhero type of cyborg Major Kusanagi. In this futuristic image of Japan, many humans have replaced parts or all of their body with robotics and are connected to a global network. This level of access leads to an insurgence of cyber crimes which is where the Johansson’s character comes in.
Johansson will be playing Maj. Kusanagi, who is like no other special-ops human-cyborg hybrid. This is where the controversy begins for fans of the manga saga.
The story was animated and written by Masamune Shirow in 1990 and it follows Maj. Kusanagi, who is a Japanese woman. Johansson is not Japanese. Which leaves many fans with mixed feelings about the casting of the emerging action star in The Ghost in the Shell.
Johansson has been growing her action star credibility among many fans with her roles in Avengers and her lead in the film Lucy. While Johansson may be proving her ability as a female action lead, the continued “white-washing” of ethnic characters in the movie is still controversial.
The mixed feelings anime fans may have about casting Johansson, is not the same for the production companies developing Ghost in the Shell. Johansson has been a no-holds-barred performer not only on screen but equally successful at the box office. In her first role as a lead female action character in Lucy, she brought in over $100 million at the box office.
While production companies may be more focused on their bottom line, fans of anime and manga recognize the interconnected relationship of the medium and Japanese culture. Leaving anime fans with mixed feelings, they appreciate Johansson as an actress but realize the bigger meaning behind her casting.
Fans who have gotten past their mixed feelings about Johansson playing the anime character and want her removed have begun a petition to Dream Works. The petition has a goal of 70,000 signatures and is just short of their goal by 5,000.
The campaign is calling for the Lucy star to be removed from the movie’s lead role and replaced with someone of Asian decent. The petition challenges the production company’s adaptation by stating. “The original film is set in Japan, and the major cast members are Japanese,” the petition continues. “So why would the American remake star a white actress? ”
This movie is not the first time Hollywood has been accused of “white-washing” by casting white actors to play people of color. Recent depictions such as Exodus: Gods and Kings had a predominately white cast, following stories that took place in the Middle East and Africa.
For now, it seems that the Avengers starlet is set to take on the lead in the adaptation. There has been no word on how much Dream Works will change the story to fit the cast and try to appease the fans who are trying to sort out how they feel about Johansson playing Maj. Kusanagi.
By Gichele Cocrelle
Edited by Cathy Milne
MTV News: SCARLETT JOHANSSON IS A MAJOR BADASS IN GHOST IN THE SHELL FIRST LOOK
Care2 Petitions: DreamWorks: Stop Whitewashing Asian Characters!
IMDb: Ghost in the Shell (2017)
Image Courtesy of EyesOnFire89’s Flickr – Creative Commons License