So. I have thoughts about the live action Ghost in the Shell movie.
The first one, which is probably surprising me the most, is that I *really* want to see it. The trailers make it look cool and weird and dark and very, very cyberpunk. It’s clearly sticking very closely to the source material from a visual point of view (with one or two, shall we say, problematic exceptions).
And that leads me on to my second thought. There’s no getting around it: this movies *reeks* of whitewash. The lead character in the original GitS is Japanese. Her name is Motoko Kusanagi, for heaven’s sake. Scarlett Johansson may be many things, but Japanese she ain’t. It’s not just ScarJo either: I’ve had a look at the cast list and it looks like anyone who could be considered a main character is being played by a white actor, with the Japanese actors picking up the supporting roles. It reminds me of the Doctor Who episode, “The Talons of Weng Chiang”, which did have genuine East Asian actors, but only in the background. Thankfully, we’ve been spared the horrendous yellow face of Weng Chaing, although only just, it seems.
Ordinarily, this would be a no brainer: I’d steer well clear and maybe, maybe, watch it on Netflix in a billion year’s time. But, and here’s the rub, it’s a female-fronted genre action movie, and those aren’t exactly growing on trees. Johansson has appeared in five Marvel movies to date, with a sixth on the way, and yet the Black Widow solo movie is just an eternal ‘maybe’. There are a few series: Underworld and Resident Evil are the obvious ones, but those are the exceptions that prove the rule.
There’s no good outcome here. If I see the movie, I signal to the studios that the course they set was correct: Western audiences need/want Western leads in their movies (*cough* Great Wall *cough*). If I don’t see it, I signal to the studio that action movies with women just don’t have that much of an audience. (The studio thinks very highly of my opinion, as I’m sure you can tell.)
I will still probably go and see it. If I can support underrepresented groups in cinema, I will, even if it’s a rather pyrrhic victory. I would love to get the opportunity to support minority actors in these kind of roles, but I’ll take what I can get at the moment.