Thank you Justin for taking the time to write this piece. I believe Johansson has good intentions in trying to redirect concern about her casting by attempting to understand and be a part of Japanese pop culture.
However, I want to note that the outcry hasn’t been around Johansson’s lack of awareness in the role she is playing. It’s that there are many other actresses that were suitable to play the role that are asian. Ghost in the Shell has pale characters but they are predominantly Japanese. Casting a white actress indicates that white performers will continue to receive precedence in roles that are more suited to minorities.
The Japanese media can also be blamed for perpetuating this behavior I suppose. Inviting Johansson to be in commercials has much to do with her background and the attitudes of Japanese culture as well. For many years, the Japanese, along with many other asian cultures, have promoted the ideal that being white and having pale skin is more widely desired. Integrating famous white American figures into native pop culture is a subtle move in promotion of the social preference of pale skin.
Being of mixed race, I had darker skin than many of my Chinese and Japanese peers and would get critiqued for it. It’s almost that having white/paler figures in pop culture is preferred over having more ethnically diverse people in these roles all around the world.
I believe you wrote this piece with good intentions. The thing is, it is written without noting the problematic behaviors that are being held at home and abroad and how this casting would affect them. Allowing Johansson and anyone involved with this movie any sort of positive PR is upsetting to minorities who continue to get bullied out of films released in America.
It might be a great film or might not be. At this point that is not the issue.