GHOST IN THE SHELL Producer Pitifully Tries to Defend Scarlett Johansson's Casting
By now, you're probably familiar with the controversy surrounding Paramount and DreamWorks' live-action adaptation of Ghost in the Shell, which experienced a huge backlash and accusations of whitewashing the cast after the first photo hit the internet of Scarlett Johansson in the lead role. The continued practice of casting white actors in roles that are meant for Asian actors is bad enough, but there was also a report that the studio conducted CGI tests to see if they could make white actors appear more Asian on screen. Yikes.
Through all of this, the filmmakers remained quiet. But this week, one of the movie's producers, Steven Paul, spoke with Buzzfeed and somehow managed to brush past the issue while claiming fans are going to love the movie:
“I think everybody is going to end up being really happy with it,” he said. “They’re going to be very, very happy with it when they see what we’ve actually done with it, and I don’t think anybody’s going to be disappointed.”
“I don’t think it was just a Japanese story. Ghost in the Shell was a very international story, and it wasn’t just focused on Japanese; it was supposed to be an entire world,” he said. “That’s why I say the international approach is, I think, the right approach to it.”
“There [are] all sorts of people and nationalities in the world in Ghost in the Shell. We’re utilizing people from all over the world. … There’s Japanese in it. There’s Chinese in it. There’s English in it. There’s Americans in it.”
So...that completely misses the point. The main controversy is about how ScarJo is playing the lead character when that role would ideally be played by an Asian actor, but instead of manning up and saying, "Look, the reality of the industry right now is that our film will make a lot more money with a white star in the lead role than it would putting an Asian actor in that part, and instead of helping to change the paradigm, we've made a decision for purely financial reasons and chosen to contribute to the problem," he just didn't address it at all.
It's unclear what Buzzfeed's exact questions were in this interview, so there's a chance they let Paul get away with this response without pressing the issue. I wonder if anyone from the movie will come forward and give a legitimate reason for their decision. I suspect someone will ask the direct question during the film's press junket in such a way where they won't be able to weasel out of an answer.