Scarlett Johansson: It’s Not “PC” — It’s Fighting Against White Saturation
White celebrities are really trying to push their ignorance and trite surface responses into the spotlight. From Zach Braff’s overly simplistic analysis that “if young people voted at the same rate that seniors voted, there would be no Trump or Pence” (way to ignore gerrymandering, voting right attacks, and the fact that white people got us Trump/Pence) to Alyssa Milano’s consistent online fails, there may be something in the water.
However, white woman are a league of their own —not solely due to their culpability in maintaining a white patriarchal system, but also in their ability to skirt responsibility due to no other fact than they are a white woman. It’s disappointing to see, particularly when it’s a actress you regard highly but, as we are learning, it’s past time to view white (particularly those saturated in whiteness) with a suspicious eye.
The white female celebrity to make the newest hot garbage comment is Scarlett Johansson.
In a cover story with As If magazine, she groaned that “[she] should be allowed to play any person, or any tree, or any animal” because that’s “[her] job and the requirements of [her] job”.
Whiteness usually comes with the same cliched responses and, oftentimes, don’t perceive it as such because of it’s wholly ingratiated state. It’s the “I don’t see color” or the “love conquers all” response.
Another point of fact is white people — only when talking about groups outside the white, cis, male — include ridiculous additions such as “I don’t care if you’re black, white, brown or purple”. Here Scarlett Johansson uses a person, tree, or animal.
This wording is passive aggressive — another staple in whiteness, where to avoid singling out, they generalize or employ dog whistles to hide who exactly they are targeting or have issues with.
The part where she discusses her work in “Under the Skin” also ties to the complaint she has against diversity and inclusion. She states, “I know how to pretend that I’m cold. I can pretend that I can’t feel my feet or toes”. The implication being that if she can pretend she can’t feel her feet or toes, naturally she can pretend to be Asian, trans or any other role (requiring such nuance and range of emotion as frozen feet) she sets her mind to.
This kind of thinking undermines the important strides being taken, that must be taken, for all of us. It takes a vital issue about underrepresentation in films for marginalized groups — that already experience a scarcity in roles they will be offered — and trivializes it to nothing more than a desire to look “politically correct”. Just because whiteness favors shadows over substance, shallowness over depth, does not mean our values are synonymous.
It’d be more honest to simply say you feel entitled to play any Black, trans, Latinx role because whiteness (and the history of it) have taught you it’s acceptable.
People rightfully called out her superficial stance.
Hiding entitlement by claiming anyone should have an opportunity to play a role is also disingenuous because, not everyone gets an opportunity thanks to racism, colorism, sexism, misogynoir and so on. Telling someone “I’m getting mine so you should get yours” does nothing for a person who is put at a disadvantage at every step of a hiring process.
The only reason it seems unfair is because Scarlett didn’t get what Scarlett wanted. It’s the same as the white person who cries reverse discrimination because a Black person was hired for a position they applied for.
The phrase “jump the shark” is described as when “a television series or movie reach a point at which far-fetched events are included merely for the sake of novelty, indicative of a decline in quality”.
However, it seems applicable to the Johansson’s of the world that this level of entitlement (i.e. whiteness) is a pipe dream and so she is effectively, efficiently jumping the shark.
Perhaps the problem is that whiteness has lied and raised you to believe you can do anything you want — play any role, appropriate any culture, demand attention, respect — that you, for no other reason than being white, are automatically allowed access everywhere you desire to be.
This is a falsehood — a destructive one that has cost both white people and marginalized people. White violence, that takes innocent lives across all groups, has nothing to do with encroaching marginalized groups taking over, it has to do with coming face to face with the realization that a white person is not the center of the universe.