Since picking Scarlett Johansson for the lead role of Major Matoko Kusanagi or The Major on the upcoming film based on the Japanese manga with the same name, Ghost in the Shell has faced backlash after backlash for claims of whitewashing.
Whitewashing in film (the practice of casting a white actor in place of an originally non-white character) is rather evident in some movies like Doctor Strange (2016) when Tilda Swinton was chosen to play the part of an Asian man in the comics known as “The Ancient One” and The Great Wall (2016) for Matt Damon’s role as a soldier/British mercenary.
In an attempt to turn the reputation of the film around, Paramount Pictures has released the #IAmMajor meme generator in reference to the protagonist’s name. The marketing campaign invites us to complete the template “I Am…” about something that defines us with an option of uploading our own photos.
However, Twitter used the tool in a somewhat ingenious and snarky way to send off an important point on appropriate depiction by generating memes mocking Scarlett Johansson, recommending Asian actresses who could have played the role of The Major, and some other content about films guilty of whitewashing.
Some notable examples include:
A shout out on Scarlett Johansson’s ‘white feminism’ and a bid on Japanese actress Rinko Kikuchi to play the lead:
— VzA (@ValerieComplex) March 11, 2017
A vote for Kaede Aono:
and trolling on Emma Stone’s role as Captain Allison Ng on Aloha (2015).
The lack of Asian representation in Hollywood is palpable so the recoil the movie gathered isn’t really surprising. In fact, a Care2 petition with the aim to stop whitewashing Japanese films has already garnered 104,166 signatures out of its 110,000 goal as of this writing.
Ghost in the Shell will hit the Philippine cinemas on March 29, 2017.
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