So I’ve never watched or read the Japanese series Ghost in the Shell, but it’s been popping up on my Twitter feed and Facebook lately about how Paramount and Dreamworks are planning (and now filming I believe) an adaptation of the original manga which will be coming to cinemas in 2017. The series has had previous film adaptations including the 1995 animated film of the same name and it’s 2004 sequel – ‘Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence’. The 1995 film is critically acclaimed with stories from film creators such as The Wachowskis (The Matrix) expressing their inspiration they got from The Ghost in the Shell film.
Of course, live action re-adaptations are all the rage lately, as stories such as The Jungle Book and The Legend of Tarzan are getting films – apparently a live action Peter Pan is also in the works. The hype for The Ghost in the Shell adaptation is definitely more prominent than I’ve seen for other manga/anime based live actions. The only live action manga adaptation I’ve watched before is the Death Note Japanese live actions, which are very good, however these films I’ve had to avidly seek out myself. I don’t believe there has been western cinema releases.
So why is Ghost in the Shell getting more publicity? Well of course for one, it will be a product of a US production, compared to most other adaptations that are produced in Japan. So in the west we will be fed it a lot easier through media and social media. However it is also, more than likely, because of the major lead in it. But a lot of people aren’t pleased.
Scarlett Johansson has been cast to play lead character Motoko Kusanagi. Kusanagi is a cyborg humanoid who is hired into a security squad leader of Japanese law enforcement. Now I have not read nor seen the animated films but from researching I feel like it’d be clear Kusanagi would be Japanese or of Asian descent. A lot of people are claiming this is ignorant whitewashing of an excellent manga and frankly, I do agree. There is a lot of amazing Asian actresses out there, examples including – Arden Cho (Teen Wolf), Lucy Liu (Elementary, Kill Bill), Karen Fukuhara (Suicide Squad), Claudia Kim (Marco Polo, Age of Ultron) or even Malese Jow (The Social Network, The Flash) or Chloe Bennet (Agents of SHIELD) both of which have one parent with Asian heritage which is more than Scarlett in all honesty.
An argument is that in the story it is never defined what race Kusanagi is, because she is a cyborg. However, surely a cyborg in Japan would be created with Asian features? If Kusanagi can choose to appear in anyway why would she go for white? You’ve sometimes got to ask yourself this. Online people will instantly brand this kind of criticism as ‘social justice Warriors’ or even ‘tumblr talk’ but people need to realise white washing in Hollywood is a big problem and shouldn’t be something swept under the rug. Obviously I am white myself; I cannot speak on behalf of POC and do not want to talk over them. A video by a youtuber/actor named Edward Zo talks about his experience trying to audition for an American adaptation of Death Note. Where the protagonist is clearly Japanese/Asian. He opens up about how the casting directors told him they were not looking for Asian actors. That right there is discrimination and honestly if people wanna whine that people talking about whitewashing is “immature tumblr talk”, I think they need to listen more.
Do watch Edwards video on his experience and get the word out. Speak up and protest against Paramount and Dreamworks about their whitewashing.
Thanks for reading,