A new clip from the highly anticipated and undoubtedly controversial Ghost in the Shell has been released, and with it some key details about Scarlett Johansson's character.
The scene shows the Major waking up in her cybernetic body for the first time, signaling the beginning of her new life. Interestingly, the clip reveals some substantial changes from previous #GhostInTheShell narratives— and may just explain that whole whitewashing controversy.
Check it out for yourself:
The Major definitely looks to be a little more emotional than her previous depictions, but that's not all that's changed. Let's break down what the clip tells us about the film:
Her Name Isn't Motoko
Goodbye Motoko, hello Meera! The scene shockingly reveals a huge name change for the franchise's beloved protagonist, which is bound to stir up even more backlash from fans of the original. Why? Because not only is the Major now a white woman, but she no longer even has her original Japanese name. Suffice to say that anime fans are not going to be too happy about that.
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A New Origins Story
The scientist standing over Meera explains that she was a victim of a terrorist attack. Of course, every trailer we've seen so far has strongly hinted that this is likely an elaborate lie.
The Major's backstory has varied throughout various versions of Ghost in the Shell, but this film might be adding one more to the list— or it could be adapting one we've already seen. In the second season of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Motoko's ghost is transferred to a cybernetic body after a plane crash. This might be part of the new "terrorist attack" story.
The Ghost Will Really Be Explained
"Your mind, your soul, your ghost- it's still here." This one sentence alone is a more thorough initial explanation of the whole "ghost" concept than what was initially revealed in the 1995 anime. After all, this film is pandering to a wider audience rather than the traditional manga/anime fan niche; therefore, it's important that the science itself is easy to understand. Let's just hope they don't dumb down the philosophy too much.
Was Her Ethnicity Stolen From Her?
As much as changing the Major's name from Motoko to Meera looks to be yet another instance of whitewashing, it might actually have a deeper meaning.
Johansson has said that those accusing the film of whitewashing should watch the film before passing judgment due to a big "turning point":
"...I think it answers the question for the audience as to who I am, who I was and what my true identity is, and it has nothing to do with how my character looks or how you see me."
It's possible that prior to gaining her cybernetic body and possibly losing her memory, "Meera" was actually Motoko, a Japanese woman. Her ghost was removed and placed in the body of a white woman, creating a subconscious internal struggle for her. As Johannson says, "the heart of this story is her search for an identity." Could this be what she's referring to?
What do you think about these big changes to Ghost in the Shell?