Earlier this week came the announcement that “Ghost in the Shell” director Rupert Sanders and actress Scarlett Johansson would reunite for “Rub & Tug,” a new biopic drama about transgender massage parlor owner Dante ‘Tex’ Gill (born Lois Jean Gill) who took on the Pittsburgh mob in the 1970s and built a crime empire.
Now both Johansson and Sanders have come under fire on social media and in several other corners due to the project. The pair were on the receiving end of some vocal backlash for “Ghost in the Shell” with its whitewashing of the central Asian character Major Motoko Kusanagi – a controversy so great that it’s thought to have played a part in the film’s fizzling out at the box-office.
That the pair would again re-team again on this has already led to claims of “ciswashing” and “transface” because, as one commenter said: “you’re making a movie about a fat trans man who was a crime boss and Scarlett Johansson is the first name that comes to mind? Really?”
Johansson then released a statement via her representative which was posted on Bustle and said confrontationally: “Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.” All three aforementioned actors have played trans characters on screen (and won awards for their work).
The comment was received in the way you would expect social media to receive it – it has now led to memes joking about Johansson’s career goal is to take an acting job from a member of each marginalized and under represented group on screen, this time switching out cultural appropriation with one of gender identity.
“Rub & Tug” is still on course to film early next year.
Scarlett Johansson received considerable backlash for Ghost in the Shell, when she played a whitewashed Asian character. The movie tanked.
Undeterred, she has teamed up WITH THE SAME DIRECTOR to play a trans male character in Rub & Tug. When asked to comment, she said: pic.twitter.com/ftgGREncHa
— April (@ReignOfApril) July 3, 2018