There’s been no shortage of harsh criticism towards Hollywood lately. Whitewashing, in particular, is the main issue that continues to surround many blockbusters. Back in February, the Egyptian-fantasy epic Gods of Egypt received intense scrutiny over their casting of Caucasian actors in predominately Middle Eastern roles. The upcoming installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe Doctor Strange also has been a major center-point after Tilda Swinton was cast as an originally Tibetan character. But probably the most controversial one is the live-action adaptation of Ghost in the Shell, set to hit theaters in March 2017.
Ghost in the Shell is based off the bestselling manga series, first released in 1989. The story features only Japanese characters, which is the main reason for the negativity of the new version. But considering that this live-action adaptation has to appeal to an international audience (and earn its big budget back), Scarlett Johansson was cast in the lead role of “The Major.” This choice immediately had intense backlash from fans of the manga, particularly after the first image was released of her as the lead character. It remains to be seen just how big of an impact this casting decision will have once the film hits theaters. But even though there are many people who disagree with this decision, there’s still plenty of backing behind what’s been done. Steven Paul, one of the producers on the film, recently spoke to Buzzfeed News about the hot-button topic.
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, and I don’t think anybody’s going to be disappointed.
Paul went on to discuss how the film will appeal to an international audience, even with the casting of actors like Johansson. He said it will be an “international” story, one that will reflect “an entire world.” He also explained how they have cast a very diverse list of actors, both Japanese and others.
There [are] all sorts of people and nationalities in the world in Ghost in the Shell. We’re utilizing people from all over the world. … There’s Japanese in it. There’s Chinese in it. There’s English in it. There’s Americans in it.
Hopefully comments like these will subdue the anger for some. While the whitewashing is still not a positive move for Hollywood, at least there’s some people behind-the-scenes that have an understandable mindset behind it. It should be a fascinating film to see, although this issue is sure to continue for the foreseeable future.
Ghost in the Shell hits theaters on March 31, 2017.