While discussion surrounding the Ghost In The Shell remake has mostly been swept up in a sea of whitewashing accusations, eagle-eyed fans may have spotted that a lesbian kiss from the first trailer didn't make the film's final cut.
Was there a glitch, or did director Rupert Sanders simply decide that we weren't ready for Scarlett Johansson to become a #LGBT heroine? Let's take a closer look at the source material and Ghost In The Shell itself to see if our potential first #lesbian action hero has finally taken off her cloaking device and become visible for the whole world to see.
Is Scarlett Johansson Majorly Gay In 'Ghost In The Shell'?
Those hoping to see #ScarletJohansson slip out of her shell for some girl-on-girl action may have felt misled by the trailer, but that's not to say Major doesn't show affection to the woman pictured above.
Although the film puts romance on the back burner for the most part, Major's limited encounter with this stranger is easily the most sexual scene in the movie — aside from every action scene that features robotic Johansson in the buff, of course.
Together, the two women explore each other's bodies, removing cybernetic attachments instead of clothes. However, the focus here seems to revolve more around curiosity over their physical differences rather than any genuine chemistry between the two. The only other significant relationships that Major holds with women in the film lean towards familial connections, including her Japanese mother and Juliette Binoche's Dr. Ouélet.
Is Scarlett Johansson Majorly Straight In 'Ghost In The Shell'?
Hollywood typically enjoys pairing off key characters in heteronormative fashion, but Ghost In The Shell remains surprisingly focused on Major's development as a person, rather than just fobbing her off on the first vaguely attractive man who appears onscreen.
More generic action/sci-fi movies would have immediately pushed Major's character onto Batou, her male colleague. After all, the two are partners at work, so why can't they be partners in the bedroom? Well, aside from how their manga counterparts act more like war buddies than anything else, Major's relationships with the men in her life seem to be strictly platonic.
Bizarrely, the only hetereosexual relationship that's hinted at in Sander's version of Ghost In The Shell is between her and the 'villain', Michael Pitt's Hideo Kuze. Towards the end, the pair connect over their shared past, and Major's desire to protect him hints at some romantic undertones. However, the idea is never explored in any explicit detail, suggesting that their relationship may be platonic too.
What Is Major's Sexuality In The Original Manga & Anime?
To dissect the ambiguity of Major's sexuality in the Hollywood remake further, we need to hack into the original manga and anime for more clues.
On the one hand, Motoko engages in a number of same-sex relations. Pages from the original manga depict Major taking part in lesbian sex as part of a lucrative but extremely illegal side business known as 'E-Sex'. The lesbian sex was initially cut from the manga's American release as this would have forced retailers to distribute the book as an 'adult only' release. Further instances from Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex also hint that Motoko is far from straight, most noticeably in a scene from Season One where Major lies half naked in bed with two women.
However, in Episode 11 of Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig, Major mentions "the first boy she ever loved," who just so happens to be Kuze, the only other survivor of their childhood plane accident. Motoko also has sex with men in the manga, and seduces an adolescent man in Episode 17 of Ghost In The Shell S.A.C. 2nd GIG.
Reports suggest that manga creator Masamune Shirow originally drew the 'E-Sex' scene as a lesbian orgy because he didn't want to draw naked men, while others argued that Major only participates in these acts for profit. However, when you take the entire franchise into account, a far more complicated picture appears, suggesting that Kusanagi is in fact bisexual or queer in some fashion.
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In some respects, it's refreshing that the Ghost In The Shell remake opted to focus on the story itself rather than Major's sexuality in any kind of overt way. However, Sanders and his team did ultimately sexualize her character through numerous action scenes featuring Johansson in the nude, which arguably reinforces how the lack of bisexual representation here is even more of a missed opportunity.
Sure, Motoko's body may just be a 'shell', but if the remake had taken longer to explore the complexities of her 'ghost' instead, then we could have finally seen the first openly bisexual action hero on our screens. Audiences may lament the whitewashing on display, but the "straightwashing" at play here is also cause for debate.
Do you think the Major should have been openly bisexual in the Western remake of Ghost In The Shell?
(Poll Image Credit: Paramount Pictures)