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Scarlett Johannson Messily Defends Right to Take on Any Role

Scarlett Johannson Messily Defends Right to Take on Any Role

Scarlett Johannson Messily Defends Right to Take on Any Role

Girl, stop.

rachelkiley

Scarlett Johansson has a history of accepting roles that should have gone to actors from groups that are more marginalized than cisgender heterosexual white women, and she’s finally speaking out on the matter.

Unfortunately, she probably shouldn’t have.

“You know, as an actor I should be allowed to play any person, or any tree, or any animal because that is my job and the requirements of my job,” she said in an interview with As If magazine recently.

A follow up question specifically asked ScarJo if she feels she should “only represent yourself, your gender, your ethnicity, or can you, in fact, play beyond these categories?”

She responded: “There are a lot of social lines being drawn now, and a lot of political correctness being reflected in art.”

To her (minimal) credit, she then said that that is a trend in the entertainment business “and it needs to happen for various social reasons,” but she wound back around on herself by finishing that by saying “yet there are times it does get uncomfortable when it affects the art because I feel art should be free of restrictions.”

The critique of Johansson’s willingness to take on roles that shouldn’t have gone to her reached a peak last year when she was cast in and ultimately pulled out of a movie about a real life trans man, Dante “Tex” Gill, Rub & Tug. It seemed she was learning from past mistakes as she cited Hollywood’s need for diversity and representation as her reasoning for dropping out of the film.

Obviously, those on the internet who have been pushing for better representation (Asians playing Asian characters, trans men playing male trans characters — you know, basic stuff) didn’t take kindly to ScarJo’s recent comments. But The Good Place’s Jameela Jamil had the best takeaway from the controversy:

 

 

But as Jamil notes, we don’t currently live in a world with enough trans representation in media, let alone played by actual trans actors. So for those roles to be taken by cisgender people (which also perpetuates the idea that trans people are, deep down, still the gender they were assigned at birth rather than the one they identify and present themselves as) is not “political correctness” impeding upon art, it’s simply proper representation. And the same, of course, can be said about whitewashed roles, such as the one Johansson played in Ghost in the Shell.

Johannson’s team did release a statement criticizing the circulation of these quotes for taking them out of context.

“The question I was answering in my conversation with the contemporary artist, David Salle, was about the confrontation between political correctness and art,” the statement reads. “I personally feel that, in an ideal world, any actor should be able to play anybody and Art, in all forms, should be immune to political correctness. That is the point I was making, albeit didn’t come across that way. I recognize that in reality, there is a wide spread discrepancy amongst my industry that favors Caucasian, cis gendered actors and that not every actor has been given the same opportunities that I have been privileged to. I continue to support, and always have, diversity in every industry and will continue to fight for projects where everyone is included.”

The full interview can be found here.

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Rachel Kiley

Rachel Kiley is presumably a writer and definitely not a terminator. She can usually be found crying over queerbaiting in the Pitch Perfect franchise or on Twitter, if not both.

Rachel Kiley is presumably a writer and definitely not a terminator. She can usually be found crying over queerbaiting in the Pitch Perfect franchise or on Twitter, if not both.