I am honestly not surprised that Paramount’s Ghost In The Shell film was a flop. The whitewashing controversy had a big ‘hand’ in that as well as the critics but it was definitely over the whitewashing.
The $110 million budget film, based on a popular manga by Masamune Shirow was probably doomed from the start when Scarlett Johansson was cast as Motoko Kusanagi. Over the weekend the film earned just $19 million at the box office and Entertainment Weekly predicts that the movie could earn at least $30 million for the duration in theaters.
We are about to spoil some scenes from the movie from here on, so read at your own risk. With that said; some people assume that the only reason Hollywood cast Scarlett Johansson in the film was so people would see it. What they didn’t account for was all the backlash they would receive from fans and the Asian community. I guess they didn’t learn from Dragon Ball Evolution. The problem is Hollywood is trying to cater to two groups of people with movies like these: the fans and non-fans. “You’ve got a movie that is very important to the fanboys since it’s based on a Japanese anime movie, so you’re trying to thread that needle between honoring the source material and make a movie for a mass audience. That’s challenging, but clearly, the reviews didn’t help,” Paramount domestic distribution Chief Kyle Davies told CBC News.
Personally, I have not seen the movie myself but two writers from Geekphilia have and without seeing it, I hit the nail on the head. My buddy confirmed what I already knew, Motoko Kusanagi was, in fact, Asian until her accident. This was an attempt to justify the whitewashing of the character that clearly did not work. Considering that the movie takes place in Japan (fictional Japanese city of Niihama, Niihama Prefecture), what I don’t understand is why they would build a white robot? It doesn’t make sense to me.
I believe that it is important for characters to be portrayed by their respected race. Imagine if Marvel’s T’Challa/Black Panther was cast as a white person or if Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln had cast a black actor as Abraham Lincoln. It wouldn’t happen, fingers crossed, but people would be outraged, it’s normal. Now, you can argue that it is not the same or race shouldn’t matter, as long as the story is good – but to most, it matters.
Keiko Agena, who starred in Gilmore Girls, stated to The Hollywood Reporter, “We’re looking at these beautiful white bodies saying these Japanese names, and it hurt my heart a little bit. As a fan, as a human Asian-American, I want to see that star being born. That was the part that hurt,” Agena added. “This is such a star-making vehicle. And they can find people…this could have made a young, kick-ass Asian actress out there a Hollywood name and star.”
Yea, I would have loved to see that!!