Scarlett Johansson’s ‘Ghost in the Shell’ role prompts ‘whitewashing’ protest

Scarlett Johansson in 'Ghost in the Shell'.
Scarlett Johansson in 'Ghost in the Shell'. Paramount Pictures

The casting of Hollywood star Scarlett Johansson in an adaptation of the popular Ghost in the Shell anime and manga series has some critics complaining of “whitewashing.”

This week, Paramount Pictures gave fans the first peek at Johansson as Maj. Motoko Kusanagi. The image’s release was enough to spark another conversation on “whitewashing” in the entertainment industry.

READ MORE: Vancouver actors say city’s theatre scene not nearly diverse enough

Some took to social media to vent frustration over the casting decision by the film’s producers, at Johansson for taking the role, and at the industry in general.

An image of Ghost In The Shell's Motoko Kusanagi.
An image of Ghost In The Shell’s Motoko Kusanagi.

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The frustration isn’t new.

Earlier this year the lack of racial diversity among Academy Award nominees prompted #OscarsSoWhite.

And it didn’t just make a splash on Twitter — Oscar host Chris Rock devoted much of his opening monologue to the discussion of diversity, or lack thereof, on-screen.

WATCH: Some of the highlights of Chris Rock’s monologue

Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs said in a statement she was “heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion” and vowed to diversify the Academy’s membership (the people who decide Oscar nominees and winners).

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Last year backlash over the casting of Emma Stone as a part-Asian, part-Hawaiian character in 2015 film Aloha prompted an apology from writer-director Cameron Crowe. Crowe said he would strive to tell more racially diverse stories in the future.

Stone said she “became the butt of jokes” over the role; the actor told it was an eye-opening experience.

“I’ve learned on a macro level about the insane history of whitewashing in Hollywood and how prevalent the problem truly is,” Stone said.

“It’s ignited a conversation that’s very important.”