3 years ago1,000+ Views

Dear Hollywood: Asian actresses exist.

Of course, you wouldn't know it just from watching our movies. Of the top films in 2014, only 5.3% of the characters were Asian, and only about 2-4% of main characters on television are Asian (via). Even on shows like Orange is the New Black, which has been lauded for its progressive representations of race, gender, and sexuality, only featured Asian characters as central to the story in season three. Representations of Asian people in our media is sparse as it is. Which brings me to Ghost in the Shell.

Polish actress Scarlett Johansson has been cast to play the Japanese character Motoko Kusinagi.

And to add insult to injury, there's a rumor that the studio was experimenting with CGI to make the white actors they cast appear more Asian (via). Instead of actually CASTING an Asian person in the role. The idea has reportedly been rejected, but why on earth was it even considered in the first place? When Asian actors absolutely were never on the table???

Ghost in the Shell is NOT a universal story.

The story was originally released in the 90s, during a period when Japan was dominating in the field of technology. Every major innovation, from cars to video games, was coming from Japan or relied on Japanese technology. They were a world leader in a way that no one expected them to be. In the aftermath of World War II, this was a huge source of pride for the Japanese people (via). Ghost in the Shell is a story about Japan's relationship with technology. It's something that an American audience can understand and relate to, but it's not one that we specifically experienced. It is literally not our story.

Does it feel like a big deal?

Representation might feel insignificant if it's something you already have. After all, it's just tv, just movies (just books, just our political system, just our lives...) but representation is how we shape our identities. Exposure to television can actually lead to a decrease in self-esteem for white and black girls, as well as black boys, but an increase in self-esteem for white boys. What kind of message are we sending when we prioritize white faces over others? We're saying: You don't matter. You are less important. And when that is the prevailing- if not the ONLY message- it's impossible not to hear it. It's deafening.
I can deal with a "western style" adaptation that borrows elements from the source material to create something new that would more readily permit the use of white characters, but this is not what they're doing at all. This is a Japanese story that was written by a Japanese man involving Japanese characters that is simply being whitewashed to make it more "commercially viable" or some crap like that. I think it's incredibly important that we, the consumers, send a message to Hollywood that this type of behavior is no longer acceptable by not giving them our money for this blatant racism. I'm not trying to detract in any way from Scarlet Johanssen, who is a great actress, but this is simply not a role that she should have received. I would say it's unbelievable how tasteless these producers are, but this isn't the first time Hollywood has pulled this crap. It's time to stop!
I would like to have anime movies to have Asian actors. IF they do make her, "THEN" she has to go beyond her limit to play Motoko. If she doesn't, her rep would drop like a rock. I just don't think she fits the Criteria. You know what, I would let them try to make this movie. If they fail, they'll lose TONS OF money and the actors will loss rep. Also it would say, the "Hollywood version of the live action failed miserably.
@KyleBerke preach it, dude. @shannonl5 you're right! Ghost in the Shell is so not our story. It is an important reflection on the tech culture in Japan and the way that tech was a symbol of power for a nation that'd been through the ringer. the story is one with significant cultural implication and nods, all stuff that gets thrown out the window by recasting the lead.
I loved Ghost In The Shell. I had been hearing the rumors about a live action movie being considered for years. Never thought it would happen but I also thought that it would be filmed by a Japanese film company, with Japanese actors. So no, I can't agree with this. U.S. filmmakers always manage to screw up the storylines, plots, etc. etc. It's just like all other Japanese and other foreign films that get re-made so that the U.S. can understand our for the filmmakers to make some quick cash. Typical.
@Matokokepa it's so frustrating because the only reason it's being made at all is because GitS is so popular here. We LIKE the original. We clearly understand the message and appreciate it. It's not about us or our culture, but it's not like the Japanese mindset is so ~confusing~ and ~unknowable~ that we didn't understand the story. But they think everything that made the story special will make it uninteresting to a broader audience
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