ScarJo's Response To Rub & Tug Backlash Proves She Doesn't Care

After successfully whitewashing a popular Japanese manga, Scarlett Johansson sets her sights on the trans community and, hon, keep it.

When it was announced that Scarlett Johansson was starring in the live action remake of Ghost in the Shell, people were pretty confused.

The character Johansson was playing... was Asian. Like Emma Stone in Aloha, Johansson had no issue playing a character based on a Japanese manga.

The film was shrouded in controversy, including a report that Paramount had tested CGI to make Johansson "appear more Asian" (the studio denied the claims). Ultimately Ghost in the Shell flopped both critically and at the box office.

It did, however, provide a great opportunity for Johansson and director Rupert Sanders to understand problematic casting. GITS proved the controversy could damage a film's opening now that a bulk of audiences are more aware of diversity in casting.

 Scarlett Johansson To Play Trans Mobster in Rub & Tug
Scarlett Johansson as Motoko Kusanagi lol. Image: Paramount Pictures.

Well, lesson learned! The pair are reuniting to double down with their upcoming film Rub & Tug.

Deadline broke the story on Tuesday, announcing Johansson would not only be working with Sanders again, but this time... she'd be playing a transgender man.


Rub & Tug is based on the life of Dante "Tex" Gill, a massage parlour boss in Pittsburgh during the '70s who used his parlours as fronts for prostitution rings.

It's not uncommon for heterosexual or cisgender actors to star as LGBT characters, but it does seem like a slap in the face for the duo to go from ignoring backlash of whitewashing to doing the same to the trans community.

Looking at the initial trade reports of the film, the mess doubles down, misgendering Gill -- who presented as male, preferred male pronouns and whose marriage to a woman was teased as a saucy part of the film's plot.

After the backlash, Bustle reached out to Johansson for comment regarding the reaction, to which a rep provided the following statement:

"Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman's reps for comment."


Here's the thing, ya'll. Had ScarJo's people taken a brief second -- a quiet moment of introspection and reflection -- they probably could have side-stepped this entire controversy.

"Hey, we understand your concerns," they could have said, "but our plan is to work with trans writers, actors, and activists and make sure we tell this story with respect".

Jared Leto as Rayon in Jean-Marc Vallée’s, Dallas Buyers Club. Leto won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for the role. Image: Fox / Focus Features

That's all they needed to say. That's it. The bare minimum. Instead, Johansson's people decided the best response was to invoke other cisgender actors who have also played trans characters -- two of whom received Oscar nominations, with Leto winning in 2014.

Does ScarJo want an Oscar that bad? If she does, she could try making a good film, rather than lashing out at a community that is misrepresented, underrepresented, and often used as awards bait while still being excluded from the mainstream conversation. Just act better hon!!!

Honestly, if she wants an award this bad we can start a GoFundMe to get her a Logie, it ain't that hard. What we don't need to be doing in 2018 is using a disenfranchised minority as a springboard to get a film in front of the Academy.

Johansson could have learned from past mistakes, but instead her team -- along with Sanders -- have proven that they aren't interested in doing even the bare minimum.

Correction: Jared Leto won an Oscar for playing a trans character in 2014, an earlier version of this post also claimed Felicity Huffman won, she was only nominated. 

Featured image: Getty.