Here are some of the common arguments I see supporting the Ghost in the Shell casting:
Asian actors don’t sell.
Wat. What movies are you watching? Adjusted for inflation, the Rush Hour trilogy grossed $780 million. Pacific Rim, which boasted breakout star Rinko Kikuchi as Mako, remains a cult favorite among nerdier circles and even cleared a cool $200 million in profit. Life of Pi, which had both and Asian lead and an Asian director, net almost $500 million and won four Academy Awards. Just as a sidebar, for those of you who don’t think Asian actors have universal appeal, I’d like to just remind you for a hot second that the populations of India and China alone comprise 33% of the world’s population, and they’re itching to see some representation in the next Hollywood blockbuster.
Motoko Kusanagi is a cyborg and therefore non-ethnic.
Great, great, I get that she’s a cyborg, but since we are casting a real human being, this real human being must assumedly have an ethnicity. So why, for the love of god, are we casting ANOTHER WHITE PERSON? It comes down to the fact that the default in most people’s mind is Caucasian, and in a country where it’s estimated that the white majority will be gone by 2043, it’s time we should start challenging that. If Iron Man can be a black woman and the entire cast of Hamilton can be diverse af, Motoko Kusanagi can sure as hell be Asian.
Ethnic representation in movies shouldn’t matter.
But it does. It does matter to every single Asian kid who had to search for a familiar face while flipping through the channels on TV. It definitely mattered when The Hunger Games revealed a black girl cast as Rue. It definitely mattered when Hermione was revealed to possibly be black. I would love to be in a world where ethnic representation in media truly doesn’t matter, but when there exist negative stereotypes about marginalized groups of people in a country that boasts its diversity and acceptance, it is the duty of that country to challenge those negative stereotypes by promoting positive role models.
Scarlett Johansson is the best!!!!
That’s an opinion, not a fact.
This issue is bigger than a movie and Scarlett Johansson. It’s about the systematic undermining of the presence and importance of Asian people in society. It’s about the Asian kid in your math class who you made fun of for being “so Asian.” It’s about the fact that people ask “but where are you really from,” because you definitely can’t be American. It’s about the fact that when I was young, I had to pick the Native American American Girl doll because she looked the closest to me and there was no Asian American doll.
You can find scapegoats to avoid the real issue at hand, saying that everything would be fixed if “the Ghost in the Shell live action shouldn’t have been an American production in the first place,” (you can read my colleague Charlie’s opinion here), or that “OMG but they ONLY casted Asians in the Fullmetal Alchemist movie!!!” but there is an issue, not just a petty “scandal.” Thousands upon thousands of people think there’s an issue. And we will not be silenced.