Yesterday, we got our first look at Scarlett Johansson in Rupert Sanders' live-action adaption of Ghost In The Shell. That's it up top.
The photo itself, while sleek and cool-looking, is pretty unremarkable save for one thing: Scarlett Johansson is playing a character by the name of Motoko Kusanagi ("The Major") who - as you might have already guessed - is Asian (she's also a cyborg, because this is anime shit we're talking about, but I digress).
Now, despite what you may have heard, Scarlett Johansson is definitely not Asian, and that's led to a bit of an uproar online from fans and critics who feel the The Major's role has been whitewashed. Since the picture was revealed, debate has raged on Twitter, message boards, and other social media spaces where people are given the ability to yell at one another. And it's about to get worse.
According to a new report over on Screen Crush:
"...Paramount and DreamWorks commissioned visual effects tests that would’ve altered Scarlett Johansson in post-production to “shift her ethnicity” and make the Caucasian actress appear more Asian in the film.
...The Ghost in the Shell tests were conducted by Lola VFX, the same company that aged up (and down) Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and is considered the industry leader in so-called beauty work. Though the tests were requested by the production team, once they were developed and reviewed, the idea was rejected “immediately,” says an insider."
Let's all say it together: oof.
Screen Crush attributes this information to several sources close to the project, and stands by the report even as Paramount suggests they've got their facts twisted. Here's the response Screen Crush received when they asked the studio for comment:
A test was done related to a specific scene for a background actor which was ultimately discarded. Absolutely no visual effects tests were conducted on Scarlett’s character and we have no future plans to do so.
Screen Crush says their sources claim that Johansson was unaware the tests occurred, but insists that they did happen. One suspects these sources felt inclined to spill the beans after the uproar that accompanied yesterday's photo reveal. One also suspects that Paramount is probably not done issuing statements on this matter.
Stay tuned for more as it occurs. Please spend the interim trying to convince me to watch the original Ghost In The Shell.