Washed Out and Fed Up

May 4, 2016 | Opinions


I admit to being jaded sometimes, and it’s not without reason – see all my previous posts on popular media, for example. So call this the latest in a long, stupid string of failures which has most certainly ceased to surprise me. Hollywood has a problem with non-Caucasians playing any kind of role that isn’t a racist stereotype, and ESPECIALLY with non-Caucasians playing a lead role.

The denizens of Twitter have taken issue with this asshattery, which resulted in the #WhiteWashedOut tag – and I highly, highly recommend that you read it if you’re concerned at all about racism (let’s call it what it is) in popular film.

Full disclosure: I really like Tilda Swinton and Scarlet Johannson. I was the one arguing that Johannson had serious acting chops back when everyone was calling The Island a crap movie and dismissing her as yet another forgettable starlet. If Marvel ever pull their head out of their ass long enough to make a Black Widow movie, I will be at the head of the queue for tickets.

But. BUT.

She is not ever, not for a fucking SECOND, Major Motoko Kusanagi.

Ghost in the Shell was my first introduction to anime, and to the concept that cartoons could deal with adult themes. It also blew me away completely on a visual level; there was and is nothing quite like it, even now. To this day, the scene of Kusanagi going hand to hand against a mook in knee high water while completely naked and using stealth camo built into her skin is just thrilling to me, on so many levels.

I had never seen that before: a woman who uses her nakedness as an advantage in combat, and in doing so, completely outclasses her opponent. There is a level of powerful representation there that stuck with me, and still does.

If someone decided to remake Ghost in the Shell while gender-flipping Kusanagi, I would rightfully lose my goddamn shit because it’s insulting to the character, to the story, and to everything that GITS represents to me.

So when Asian writers and actors kick back against this idiocy with #WhiteWashedOut, don’t you dare fucking say that they’re overreacting or that the story is for everyone or any number of stupid, shitty things I’ve heard on Twitter just today alone. Scarlet Johannson CANNOT be Kusanagi. She cannot take up the mantle of who and what the Major is without betraying the fundamental heart of the character. This action, of casting white actors and actresses in Asian roles, is asinine already, but it’s far worse when they take roles that are nothing short of iconic and push out the people who SHOULD be playing them because of some assholish idea of what will sell to a white audience.

This is an industry that’s proved many, many, MANY times that it doesn’t have a fucking clue what’s going to sell. It didn’t predict the success of Brokeback Mountain, for gods’ sake, and it didn’t make more films like it when it did turn into a hit. I have neither the time nor the patience for this shit and I will have none of it.

I will not go to see this remake, this travesty, of one of the greatest artworks ever produced by Japan. I am not about to pay money to see something I love get shit upon. This is the only appropriate response to whitewashing, and if you care about this, you’ll do the same. In conclusion, the photo for this article is of the actress who should have gotten the role, in my opinion – Rinko Kikuchi, who was so awesome in Pacific Rim I still can’t handle it.

Needless to say, I’m not going anywhere near the Dr. Strange movie.