‘Ghost In The Shell’ producer’s denial of whitewashing sums up everything wrong with Hollywood

Posted by  Aisha Clarke   in       1 year ago     3697 Views     1 Comment  

Steven Paul attempted to justify the controversial casting of Scarlett Johansson as Major Motoko Kusanagi in an interview with BuzzFeed News.


Fans of Masamune Shirow’s manga series Ghost in the Shell were outraged when news that Scarlett Johansson would be playing the lead character was released and quickly took to social media to voice their disappointment. However, Steven Paul remains defiant and defends the decision. He insists that fans will change their minds.


“I think everybody is going to end up being really happy with it. They’re going to be very, very happy with it when they see what we’ve actually done with it.”


The Ghost in the Shell movie camp has remained relatively quiet about the whitewashing debate surrounding the film until now.


“I don’t think it was just a Japanese story. Ghost in the Shell is a very international story.” Paul explained to BuzzFeed.


This comment sums up everything wrong with Hollywood. The producer is failing to see why the casting of a white actor for a Japanese character has angered fans. And has not looked at the bigger picture and the context surrounding the debate.


Hollywood is notorious for casting white actors to play non-white characters. The white actor Jake Gyllenhaal portrayed the Arab Dastan in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Ben Affleck played the Hispanic Tony Mendez in Argo and Emma Stone was cast as the half Asian lead in Aloha. These are just a few examples of this epidemic. Whitewashing is not new, it’s an unwritten Hollywood tradition. The white, blue eyed, John Wayne played the Mongolian historical figure Genghis Khan in the 1956 film The Conqueror.

prince of persia

All of this is set in a context where films and television shows are failing to represent ethnic minorities on screen and behind the camera. Therefore, a role that seems obvious for a Japanese actress, going to a white actress is going to upset people. It seems incredible that Steven Paul fails to recognize this in his interview.


Unfortunately, Paul’s attitude seems to echo most of Hollywood’s at present. With Leonardo DiCaprio being producers’ first choice to play the Afghan cultural icon Rumi; it seems that despite all the online backlash whitewashing has received it is not going to change anytime soon.


Steven Paul’s interview did not convince me that casting Scarlett Johansson as Major Motoko Kusanagi was the right decision. Nor did it address the wider whitewashing in Hollywood debate. What the interview really shows is a lack of understanding about the negative impact of whitewashing on society and the failure to recognise the benefits of on-screen diversity.


If you are in doubt of the benefits on diversity in the media, please watch this video….



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