In the last few years, Scarlett Johannson has accepted a couple of roles that have raised quite a few eyebrows.
After portraying an Asian woman in Ghost in the Shell, a casting decision that drew disapproval centered around Hollywood’s decades-long whitewashing problem, Johannson, a cisgender woman, was cast by the same director, Rupert Sanders, to portray a trans man in Rub & Tug.The negative response was enough to provoke Johannson to quit the project, but based on what she said in a new interview with As If magazine, it seems she might have done so with reluctance and frustration over the social “restrictions” critics have placed on her.
“You know, as an actor, I should be allowed to play any person, or any tree, or any animal because that is my job and the requirements of my job.I feel like it’s a trend in my business and it needs to happen for various social reasons, yet there are times it does get uncomfortable when it affects the art because I feel art should be free of restrictions,” Johannson told As If, adding,
“I think society would be more connected if we just allowed others to have their own feelings and not expect everyone to feel the way we do.”The interview excerpt has reawakened criticism of Johannson, largely on social media. “I really wish Scarlett Johannson would realise that her ‘I don’t see race or gender’ act is getting old,”
one Twitter user wrote, while another person said, “thank u scarlett johanson for demonstrating so perfectly today what it means to have white privilege.”Others had a more humorous take on her quote, with one Twitter user posting, “OK, but hear me out. Scarlett Johannson as Grandmother Willow in the live-action Pocahontas movie you know we’re eventually going to get…”
Although Johannson has not formally apologized for accepting her role as a woman of Asian descent in Ghost in the Shell, she responded to backlash in 2017 by telling Marie Claire, “Diversity is important in Hollywood, and I would never want to feel like I was playing a character that was offensive.”Before withdrawing from her role in Rub & Tug, however, her representative provided Bustle with a more dismissive statement about critics’ comments:
Johannson has not yet publicly responded to the current uproar over her As If interview.