Irony is a Shade of Scarlett

So like many of you I caught the interview where Scarlett Johannson encouraged moviegoers to keep asking for diversity.

Now I like ScarJo and all but like many of you I laughed heartily for a good five minutes.

The guffawing finally ceased when I realized this wasn’t an Onion article and the Lucy and Ghost In The Shell star was being serious.

Then this was my reaction.

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Ghost in the Shell and the Complexity of Cultural Appropriation

by Trungles

There is an old fairy tale popularized by Hans Christian Andersen as The Little Mermaid. I’m one of those odd first-and-a-half generation Vietnamese American immigrants, and tales of living in between spaces have always held my attention. The story goes that a little princess from a world under water wants to live on the land. She falls in love, exchanges her tongue for a pair of legs, and finds herself thrust into the unenviable circumstance of navigating a strange space where she literally has no voice. Ultimately finding no place for her in the world for which she had given up everything, she casts herself off the side of a ship into the ocean, drowns, and dissolves into sea foam. Victorian sentiments about Christianity and moralizing stories for children eventually got Andersen to amend the ending. This is more or less the state of Asian American identity politics. We’re always finding ourselves caught between “where we come from” and wherever we yearn to belong.

The buzz around the 2017 Ghost in the Shell film, among many other film and television projects of its ilk in recent memory, has ignited a bevy of thinkpieces about cultural appropriation and the nature of Asian American identity politics. The topic is complicated.

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Ghost in the Shell Trailer is Just as Racist as Everything Else This Week

by Dominic Mah | Originally posted on YOMYOMF

Wow, where to start with this trailer. It OPENS on a person in stylized Japanese esoteric garb to tell us how much we’re in that place Japan where things are weird. Who is this person? Don’t know, don’t care at all.

Then we get a pretty faithful live-action recreation of the original Ghost in the Shell’s elegant opening action sequence, pretty much nailing the point home that the only reason you aren’t aware of this seminal science-fiction already is because it didn’t have Scarlett Johannson in it, and now we fixed that for you.

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Jon Tsuei is Right: A #WhitewashedOUT Ghost in the Shell Misses the Cultural Mark

There’s been so much talk about Ghost in the Shell, Dr. Strange, whitewashing, yellowface, and underrepresentation I bet some of you out there are saying, “Man, I might be at my limit!” But wait, there’s more!

When the first look image of Scarlett Johansson as The Major came out, tons of people, Ghost in the Shell fans and regular movie fans alike, were dismayed that yet another opportunity to cast talented Asian actresses passed Hollywood by. Or to put it another way, folks were upset that Hollywood didn’t take the opportunity to advance itself into something better than it has been.

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The Nerds of Hamilton

For this week’s edition of Hard NOC Life, we’re changing it up and focusing our attention on a genre that doesn’t get much attention on the site: musical theater! At a time when Hollywood still thinks it’s risky business to put people of color in their movies, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton is literally poppin’ a squat on conventional wisdom, like it or not. With its company of African American, Latinx, and Asian American actors playing the men (and women) who founded our country, Hamilton is proof that diversity equals box office. Joining Keith to talk all things Ham, are super-fan Constance Gibbs, Hollywood Reporter Rebecca Sun, and #OscarsSoWhite creator April Reign.

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What a Shitty Week to be an Asian American Woman in Hollywood

It may feel like beating a dead horse, but I have some thoughts to share about the last seven days in Hollywood. It all started with the debut of the Doctor Strange trailer and our first look at Tilda Swinton’s Ancient One. That was quickly followed up with Paramount offering a sneak peek at Scarlett Johansson’s Major Motoko Kusanagi. (Even today, Lionsgate unveiled Elizabeth Banks as Power Ranger villain Rita Repulsa). Late last week, I posted the above photo on twitter as a joke about a Joy Luck Club remake.

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Which AAPI Actor Deserves the Nerd Grand Slam?

This week’s reveals from Doctor Strange and Ghost in the Shell are further proof that it’s hard out there for an Asian actor who wants to be in a genre film. Fortunately, there are a few AAPI actors who have claim to the coveted “Nerd Grand Slam;” that is, they’ve starred in a superhero franchise, a Star (Trek or Wars) vehicle, and an epic fantasy. But who is the nerdiest? Dominic Mah, from YOMYOMF.com, joins Keith to decide which actor is the One Nerd to rule them all.

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Some Thoughts on Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell

by Jon Tsuei

[Ed. note: This essay first appeared as a series of tweets on Jon’s twitter account and is being re-presented with his permission.]

I’ve been seeing a lot of defenses for the ScarJo casting that seem to lack a nuanced understanding of a Ghost In The Shell as a story.

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Four Hollywood Rip Offs of Motoko Kusanagi

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the theatrical release of Ghost in the Shell, (and 26 years since the manga was first published).

There is no denying the influence this film has had on Hollywood. From James Cameron to Steven Spielberg, directors have praised writer Matsume Shirow and director Mamoru Oshii for their work on the series. Ghost In the Shell was a game changer as it introduced a true Japanese post-cyberpunk world to American audiences.

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Lost in Translation: Scarlett Johansson and Ghost in the Shell

As our friend Angry Asian Man pointed out earlier this week, Scarlett Johansson has been offered the role of Major Motoko Kusanagi in Dreamworks’ live-action remake of Mamoru Oshii’s ground-breaking anime Ghost in the Shell. And well, she’s white. Which to many of us here certainly feels like more Hollywood whitewashing at first glance. Particularly to anyone following the on-again off-again plans for a live-action remake of Akira with an all white cast or M. Night Shymayalan’s tragic The Last Airbender.

Ghost in the Shell is a seminal film in Japanese cinema for its part in a wave of anime releases in the early-to-mid 90s that set a new bar for the form in Japan, and solidified its legitimacy abroad. I watched GITS along with Katsushiro Otomo’s Akira and Yoshiaki Kawajiri’s Ninja Scroll over the course of one night in 1996, and I was converted irretrievably to the understanding that Japanese anime was the default in animation.

But as much as Ghost in the Shell is essential viewing for anyone interested in entering this very Japanese world of anime — a rabbit hole through which careful consideration is required — the film’s premonitory vision of the future is not uniquely Japanese. There are certainly cultural nuances that drive the film, and its rendering of future Japan is one of its most enjoyable aspects, but that is why we adapt films, to make them uniquely ours.

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