Yet another casting controversy for actress Scarlett Johansson is on the rise. Recently, she played the lead in 2017’s Ghost in the Shell, where the lead character was canonically Japanese. Now, Rupert Sanders, who directed Ghost in the Shell, announced that Johansson will be playing the role of a transgender man in upcoming film, Rub & Tug, which is based on a real story.
A few transgender writers and creators spoke out about the issue, including Indya Moore (Pose) and Jamie Clayton (Sense8). Moore commented on twitter:
Wen cis women play trans men you are reducing the existential experience of a trans man as playing dress up. cis people cannot tell trans stories- don’t have the range. If they did, they would empathize with the reality of how problematic, dismissive and fetishizing this is.
Clayton also made a statement via twitter:
Actors who are trans never even get to audition FOR ANYTHING OTHER THAN ROLES OF TRANS CHARACTERS. THATS THE REAL ISSUE. WE CANT EVEN GET IN THE ROOM. Cast actors WHO ARE TRANS as NON TRANS CHARACTERS. I DARE YOU #RupertSanders @NewRegency #ScarlettJohansson
As far as filmmaking goes, I strongly believe that the craft of acting shouldn’t be taken lightly. Casting directors need to make the best decision regarding who can portray a certain character the best. If there were, indeed, trans actors who would have fit the part better, then they should have landed the role. However, it should be noted that the people of the trans community do not have an even playing field when auditioning for any role. If a cisgender actor/actress can portray a transgender person, then transgender actors/actresses should be considered for cisgender roles; with no discrimination.
Clearly, the topic needs discussed in further detail. An unidentified rep for Johansson published a statement to Bustle saying: “Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.” Each actor mentioned is cisgender and have critically acclaimed performances for portraying people in the trans community. Needless to say, Johansson might not have the best tactic when approaching these topical conversations.