Ghost in the Shell fell victim almost immediately the the controversy surrounding the whitewashing of its central character. Though the movie hails from Japanese roots, Scarlett Johansson was tasked with playing the robot protagonist. Now, some might say that since she's a robot that there really isn't a whitewashing problem. She's a robot! Robots don't have race!
Of course, the film's director didn't really sidestep the problem. He leaned into it like a right hook: The big reveal in the film is that Johansson's brain has been Japanese this whole time. We know, it's insanely stupid. Our faces began to cringe but we were worried they would get stuck like that so we did some breathing exercises and righted the ship. Phew. The memes roasting the casting choice haven't stopped, and now another group is joining in to pan the project.
This group is, drumroll, actual Japanese actresses speaking to The Hollywood Reporter. It will shock you to learn that they didn't like the film.
"Major’s backstory is white people trying to justify the casting," Ai Yoshihara told the publication.
"And they f—ed up in the process because now it looks even worse," Atsuko Okatsuka said. "The text at the beginning of the movie explained that Hanka Robotics is making a being that’s the best of human and the best of robotics. For some reason, the best stuff they make happens to be white. Michael Pitt used to be Hideo."
The thing that strikes us about this roundtable is that the women aren't even remotely surprised. They just think this sort of thing is funny in a sad way. Which is in itself pretty sad.
The movie, by the way, joined other whitewashing spectacles like The Great Wall in being critical and commercial flops. This stuff doesn't work. The sooner directors learn that, the better.