The First Pic Of Scarlett Johansson In Ghost In The Shell Is Pissing Everyone Off All Over Again

Production has begun on the Paramount remake of Ghost in the Shell, based on the influential Japanese anime movie and manga series from the ’90s. Fans and critics alike were pissed when it was announced that Scarlett Johansson would star as Major Motoko Kusanagi, the protagonist of the film, and the picture that Paramount released has just stirred the pot all over again.

Would it have killed them to cast Rinko Kikuchi, an internationally known actress and action hero from films like Pacific Rim and Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter? You know, someone actually… Asian? If we wanted to see Johansson wearing a dark wig to play a creature with superhuman powers, we could just rent Under the Skin!

It’s a bad week for whitewashing; even the normally untouchable Tilda Swinton is getting read for portrayal of the Ancient One in Doctor Strange. Everyone is all for a gender-swapped action hero being played by a delightfully bald Tilda Swinton, but what the trailer shows is somewhat discomfiting. As Donna Dickens at HitFix points out, the ’60s source material is already a little touchy when it comes to the way it gloms on to Eastern mysticism, but “[c]asting a white woman and plopping her down into the middle of a fictional Asian culture can’t be the answer.”

China is, of course, a huge factor when it comes to considering the reach and appeal of a film. It’s set to be the largest film market by 2017, ahead of the the United States, which means more and more productions have to take into account international appeal. While a big budget flick like Ghost in the Shell might need someone of Johansson’s stature to get it greenlit, Doctor Strange already has Benedict Cumberbatch on board; even if they kept Swinton as the Ancient One, surely they could have rejiggered her character’s background or milieu a little bit better?

To make matters worse, ScreenCrush reports, “According to multiple independent sources close to the project, Paramount and DreamWorks commissioned visual effects tests that would’ve altered Scarlett Johansson in post-production to ‘shift her ethnicity’ and make the Caucasian actress appear more Asian in the film.” According to ScreenCrush, the company who ran the tests was Lola VFX, the company behind the crazy effects in Benjamin Button, Captain America, and a ton of other high-profile Hollywood flicks. Using special effects to make Pee-wee Herman look ageless is less dubiously creepy than slimming down stars or making them look younger, but adjusting their ethnicity is — excuse the expression — beyond the pale.

[ScreenCrush]