‘Ghost in the Shell’ Producer Defends His Casting
If you’ll remember, a few months ago we broke the news that Ghost in the Shell producers had tested visual effects that would make the Caucasian members of their upcoming film adaptation appear Asian. Multiple independent sources confirmed that this was part of an attempt to “shift the ethnicity” of lead actress Scarlett Johansson in post-production. The news went over about as well as you would expect.
Now that the public outcry has died down, however, the producer of Ghost in the Shell has finally come forth in an interview with BuzzFeed to address the accusations of whitewashing in the American adaptation. His response is, shall we say, a little underwhelming.
I think everybody is going to end up being really happy with it. They’re going to be very, very happy with it when they see what we’ve actually done with it, and I don’t think anybody’s going to be disappointed … I don’t think it was just a Japanese story. Ghost in the Shell was a very international story, and it wasn’t just focused on Japanese; it was supposed to be an entire world. That’s why I say the international approach is, I think, the right approach to it.
If these comments seem a little tone deaf, it is probably because they are. There is a certain line of thinking in the back rooms of Hollywood that suggests a movie does not need to be progressive or culturally specific as long as it is broadly entertaining, as if the two are entirely exclusive approaches to making movies. The films that stand the test of time aspire to be both; the ones that don’t end fill those giant crates of cheap Blu-rays at your nearest Walmart.
As BuzzFeed reminds us in the article, producer Steven Paul has also announced plans to adapt another manga series, the just-as-popular Lone Wolf and Cub. This series follows the adventures of a Japanese swordsman and his young sun in feudal Japan; it is unknown as of yet whether Paul also views this as an “international story” and will set it somewhere in the American Midwest.