ByJohn McGinn, writer at
John McGinn

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Following the reveal of the first photo of Scarlett Johansson as the lead character in the upcoming live-action adaptation of “Ghost in the Shell,” a new report has come out stating that the studios behind the project (Paramount and Dreamworks) tested CGI that would alter the ethnicity of white actors to Asian in post-production.
ScreenCrush reports that multiple independent sources close to the project have stated that the studios commissioned visual effects that would take Scarlett Johansson and “shift her ethnicity” in post, making her appear Asian. The tests were run by Lola VFX, the effects company responsible for the aging up and down of Brad Pitt’s performance in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” Upon seeing the finished results of the test, however, the report states that the idea was rejected “immediately.”
Paramount Pictures confirmed to ScreenCrush that the tests did take place but insisted that they were not for Johansson’s character. “A test was done related to a specific scene for a background actor which was ultimately discarded. Absolutely no visual effects tests were conducted on Scarlett’s character and we have no future plans to do so,” read the statement. However, the unnamed sources say that the tests were specifically commissioned for Johansson’s character.
This move comes after much vocal criticism of the actress’ casting in the lead role, a role that was originally depicted as Asian in the manga. Similarly, Johansson’s character will be called Major in the film instead of her name in the source material, Major Motoko Kusanagi.
Filming is under way in Wellington, New Zealand, for a U.S. release on March 31, 2017

First let me stat that personally I had no problem with Scarlett Johansson cast as the lead in the Ghost in the Shell live action film as Motoko Kusanagi. First I was never liked Ghost in the Shell, and believe it is one of the most overrated anime films ever. The anime OVA Armitage III that unfortunately came out the same year as Ghost in the Shell and was overshadowed by the big budget film, but has a stronger and deeper story with strong themes along with better constructed characters. Second Kusangi is a cybernetic human that can take a body and Kusangi is a fictional character, so I have no problem with Johansson taking the role.

Now what I have a problem with deals with the article above and the rumors in them. If they are true Paramount and Lola VFX are essentially doing what studios did in the early to mid-20th century in that instead of casting black, Asian, or other ethnicity they instead casted white actors and made them to looks whatever ethnicity they were playing, so the implications behind what Paramount do not look good. Also, if they are simply going to make Johansson look Japanese or Asian why cast her at all. If they’re simply going to do that they could have cast a Japanese or Asian actress for the role like Rila Fukushima who did a great job in The Wolverine as Yukio alongside Hugh Jackman and has done a wonderful job on the TV series Arrow as Katana.

Again, I had no problem in the casting of Johansson in the Ghost in the Shell film, but if director Rupert Sanders, Paramount and DreamWorks were always going in this direction why cast a white actress at all, and cast an Asian actress. There are some big name Asian actresses like Fukushima, Ziyi Zhang, Jamie Chung, Liu Yifei, Tao Okamoto, and Zhang Yuqi to name a just a few. I know Johansson is a big name that can help sell tickets for Paramount and DreamWorks, and I want the film to succeed so I can eventually see a live action Robotech, Cowboy Bebop, and Gundam films one day, but if they’re going to cast a white actress in the lead role that’s fine with me, but don’t change her ethnicity in the film. Personally, if I had to choose a Japanese or Asian actress for to play Kusangi I would chose Rila Fukushima or Ziyi Zhang. Zhang is one of the best Asian and simply once of the best actresses in film today starring in the likes Hero, House of the Flying Daggers, The Grand Master and Memoirs of a Geisha.

Hopefully this article ends of just being a rumor, but if not it cast a bad light on Paramount, DreamWorks, Lola VFX, and the upcoming Ghost in the Shell film.


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