We all remember last year’s live-action Ghost in the Shell debacle. It became a symbol of what happens when you dumb down an original story. It’s what happens when you fail to acknowledgeme cultural source material.
But to be fair, they almost could have gotten away with the casting of Scarlett Johansson if they had made a good enough film.
And that’s where Netflix’s new series, Altered Carbon is trying to break the pattern. (Kinda.)
The title deals with a similar story-telling challenge: an Asian man put into the body of a Caucasian man. People can be frozen or put in stasis and then brought back in new “sleeves” (or bodies). Our lead, Takeshi Kovacs is dropped into the body of a Caucasian man to investigate and solve a murder case.
Creators didn’t execute perfectly, but it they did attempt to confront the notorious live-action adaptation controversies head on… And they did a pretty great job.
Here, we’re not stuck with the star-power of one character to sell the title (lookin’ at you, Scarlett). Altered Carbon succeeds because creators developed an entire world around multiple main characters. They’ve avoided white-washing by showing us the life our hero had in his original body, plus the other Asian bodies that he occupies over time.
Instead of sidestepping the whitewashing controversy, Netflix is stepping directly into it by showcasing Takeshi’s discomfort in his new body.
If Ghost in the Shell creators had taken this approach then maybe they could have ended up with a better movie (or at least a better adaptation of a classic)….