Seriously Sarah
by Seriously Sarah

Ghost in the Shell is now in CATCHPLAY’s library and you can now finally watch it in the comfort of your home. It stars Scarlett Johansson as the Major alongside international talents in a backdrop of a futuristic Tokyo.

Ghost in the Shell

Directed by Rupert Sanders, the film is an adaptation of Masamune Shirow’s classic manga loved by worldwide fans. It caught controversy over having the Major white washed… but was she really? There is a plot twist at the end for this live action version compared to the anime and original manga.

So what exactly is white washing?

It’s when the source or the original story has the character in a specific race or ethnicity but a ‘white person’ is cast instead. This happens mostly in Hollywood where producers want someone well-known and tested to be cast instead of having someone who might have been more accurate to the character.

There are many Asian Americans, African Americans and people from different ethnicities to create a good diversity of talent, but on screen, it seems predominantly ‘white’. Things are slowly changing and you’d see more diversity such as in Power Rangers: the movie and Get Out (also available on CATCHPLAY) that addresses racism in America.

While Ghost in the Shell isn’t the first movie that caught controversy about possibly being white washed, did you know Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch) in Star Trek Into Darkness was definitely white washed?

Star Trek Into Darkness

Star Trek was a long standing series and Khan had always been portrayed by Mexico-born Ricardo Montalbán. Khan was not a white person and even though he was a villain, it was a victory of sorts to see that someone of a different ethnicity was on screen since back then, not many roles were given to people of colour.

Marvel’s Doctor Strange was also rather odd because it had Tilda Swinton starring as the Ancient One. Isn’t the Ancient One supposed to be at least Asian in an Asian country where Doctor Strange goes? Hurray for at least female representation though.

Doctor Strange

Strangely, the director and studios had flip flopping reasons for the casting ranging from not wanting the movie to be political since it was set in Tibet, to not wanting a stereotypical ‘dragon-lady’ by casting an Asian. When you get down to it, it’s kind of weird that you watch the movie to see a white lady in the middle of an Asian country and white people learn Asian things from her. In reality if that happened, we would have probably called it a scam.

Lastly, another example is A Beautiful Mind (2001). Did you know Alicia Nash was actually a Salvadoran-born character and not white? I didn’t know this either but back then the Internet wasn’t as common as it is now.

A Beautiful Mind

Her ancestry should be factored into the movie, since it was an autobiography of John Nash; her rocky immigration to the States was an important point since she was his wife. Instead, the director chose to simplify the movie and remove that aspect, casting instead, Jennifer Connelly as Alicia.

And that’s why a lot of people do not like white washing. Even a small role portrayed by a person of ethnicity could have given them more opportunity and have others see people that look like themselves on screen.

In any case, maybe you could watch Ghost in the Shell and figure out yourself. Was the Major white washed or wasn’t she?