Recently, one of my peers (fellow writer and cosplayer) decided to foolishly play devil’s advocate in discussing the controversy surrounding Scarlett Johansson being cast as Motoko Kusanagi in Hollywood’s upcoming Ghost in the Shell movie. Motoko is a Japanese character, and Johansson is not Japanese (or even Asian at all, for that matter). She is white. Nothing against white people, but Hollywood has a major diversity issue with a long, well-documented history of whitewashing characters for the big screen that were originally POC (people of color) in the source material. With that in mind, there’s no question that the role of Mokoto Kusanagi was whitewashed.
My fellow nerd writer, however, felt it was a question worth asking anyway, using, well, racism and a bunch of other nonsense fuckery to justify his argument in a poorly written and extremely enraging article entitled “Ghost in the Shell: Is This Really a Case of Whitewashing?”
Below is an audio recording of my reaction to that article:
To clarify a few things:
1. The author of the article in question also wrote an article demanding more black people in anime, ignoring the fact that Japan is pretty much racially homogenous. This means nearly everyone in Japan is ethnically and nationally Japanese. Anime is reflective of that: the characters are predominantly Japanese. That is the default.
2. The author is someone who often pushed for diversity, yet felt it was ok to throw Japanese and other Asian POC under the bus with his article. My stance is that you can’t just care about groups you’re directly a part of. As a black woman, I’m against all forms of discrimination. This means that I will speak out against anti-Asian racism just as passionately as I would against anti-black racism. This means that I will speak out against gender discrimination. This means I will fight for equality and fair treatment of all, not just for me or people who look like me or worship like me or love like me. He doesn’t appear to understand the concept of solidarity, and that is deeply troubling as he has something of a platform through which he may influence others.
3. The author has yet to offer a valid defense of the unfortunate “lemme just try to justify or excuse this blatant case of whitewashing” article, instead opting to mostly ignore valid criticism of it. If you can’t defend your work, it probably wasn’t worth writing in the first place. If you can’t own up to your fuckups or deal with criticism, then you have no right to call yourself a journalist.
For another great look at why whitewashing is wrong and why that horrible fucking article either needs to be retracted or apologized for, check out these cool explanations and insights: