Monday, 25 April 2016

Dear Max Landis, here's what you missed in your video about 'Ghost in the Shell'

I've tended to ignore debates about race and Hollywood films because people like you, Max Landis, are vocal enough. I've linked to your video because you've made a point, but where the casting of Scarlett Johansson in  'Ghost in the Shell' is concerned, I think you've missed a few others.

Point #1: Max, you didn't mention that 'Ghost in the Shell' is fiction, just like 'James Bond'. So many white actors have played James Bond that it's arguable that 'James Bond' is the codename for 'Secret Agent No. 007 of MI5'. This could be anyone, even a woman (no, Idris, I'm not calling you a woman or likening you to one, but please remember to thank me when you get The Call). After all, it's fiction, right? On that note, Scarlett Johansson's role in 'Ghost' is as a cyborg. Would 'Ghost' be different if her role went to either a man, a transgender person, or a robot?

Point #2: Max, your thoughts on the allegation that CGI was used to make Scarlett Johansson 'look more Asian' in 'Ghost', or that the taping of Caucasian eyes to 'make them look more Asian' actually happened in 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' and 'Cloud Atlas' would have been welcomed. Do you know what 'look more Asian' means? Are there decision-makers who decide what it means to 'look white' or 'look black' or 'look Asian', or have a set standard of  'acting Asian', or 'acting white', or 'acting black', or 'acting Native American'?  What do you think of Sacha Baron Cohen? Has he set the standard for his acting as 'blackness', 'gay Austrian-ness' and 'Kazakh-ness', and why/why not?

Point #3: Max, you forgot to mention that just as most white people don't look like oil paintings, most East Asian people don't look like scroll paintings or manga. All humans don't look like paintings or drawings of any sort because we are three-dimensional and we have urbanisation, industrialisation, improved nutrition, new ways of using makeup, and good cameras. We don't even need surgery to look uber-gorgeous anymore.

Point #4: Max, you didn't talk about white adults having to play extreme make-believe games for the sake of money, and what this means for our world. You see, I personally think that Mickey Rooney was a wonderful weirdo in 'Breakfast at Tiffany's', Justin was a great ape in 'Dragonball', David Carradine was legendary as a bald wanderer, and Rooney Mara was an inspiring pixie dust spreader in 'Pan'. I am particularly grateful to these white actors for doing what they did, because they took one for the team and helped to stop struggling Native American and Asian-American members of their fraternity from looking and acting like complete and utter prats.

Point #5: Max, you blamed 'the system' for creating the Scarlett Johansson Ghost in the Shell fiasco, but as a writer in Hollywood, what part do you play? Why did 'Ghost in the Shell' have to come from Japan? Why didn't you or your mates come up with 'Ghost in the Shell'? Did 'Ghost in the Shell' have to come from Japan to be marketable? Does a marketable idea from the Far East always have to involve a make-believe East Asian female whose femininity is central to her identity (can a man play her? Why/why not?)? Given as the current President of South Korea is a woman, while Hilary Clinton gets horrid comments for being female, and Donald Trump gets away with making nasty comments about females, is Hollywood out of touch?

For your next big idea, where will you and your mates be looking?


B x

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