Ghost in the Shell Whitewashing PSA

The issue of whitewashing in Hollywood is a frustrating one, and the latest culprit in the struggle of non-white actors to have lead roles in major franchises is Ghost in the Shell.

Scarlett Johansson has the lead role in the American adaptation of the Japanese manga turned anime, a story which originally featured a female Japanese protagonist at its center. There are those who don’t understand why that’s a problem simply because the movie has to appeal to American audiences. But a new Ghost in the Shell whitewashing PSA by filmmakers Chew May and Jes Tom illustrates why having diversity in movies that are adapted from this kind of source material are important.

Because of how history played out during the popularity of comic books in decades past, there is a plethora of white superheroes that can be looked up to. But for foreign audiences, they only have so many iconic heroes from fiction that they can look up in Hollywood movies that weren’t imported from the predominantly white pop culture phenomena from the United States. Such is the case with Ghost in the Shell.

Imagine being a young Asian girl who struggled to find a hero to latch onto, but then found Major Motoko Kusanagi. For many fans like this, Major Motoko Kusanagi represented something different, allowing them to see someone like themselves in a popular hero. But then this new Ghost in the Shell motion picture comes along and casts Scarlett Johansson in the lead role, making Major just like every other white protagonist they’ve encountered in dominant pop culture.

This is why whiteashing matters. And it’s not just the whitewashing of Asian characters either. This PSA stands as representation for every other race, sexual orientation, gender identity, and other minority groups that go underrepresented in show business and have little opportunity to see themselves on screen.

Thanks to io9 for bringing this to our attention.

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