Even though cyborg ass-kicker the Major began her life as a Japanese character in Ghost in the Shell, the director of the original film doesn’t think she needs to be played by an Asian actress. And he’s totally fine with Scarlett Johansson in the role.
“There is no basis for saying that an Asian actress must portray her,” Mamoru Oshii told IGN on Tuesday, “The Major is a cyborg and her physical form is an entirely assumed one. The name ‘Motoko Kusanagi’ and her current body are not her original name and body…Even if her original body — presuming such a thing existed — were a Japanese one, that would still apply.”
This isn’t the first time Mamoru Oshii has defended the casting of Scarlett Johansson in the impending live action remake of the anime movie. Back in November he said that the new film will “honor” his original anime. And now, he’s doubled-down on this notion, claiming that the science fiction nature of the character removes concerns about ethnicity.
“What issue could there possibly be with casting her?” he told IGN, adding that he felt artistic expression must be “free of politics.” This notion comes in sharp contrast to the ongoing fan outcry and accusations of whitewashing, which were summed up in a recent fan-made PSA touting the need for accurate ethnic representation.
Elsewhere in the comic book adaptation zeitgeist, Iron Fist creator Roy Thomas was similarly dismissive of cultural appropriation claims, telling Inverse, “I have so little patience for some of the feelings that some people have.” While Thomas feels that Iron Fist is “just an adventure story,” Oshii thinks Ghost in the Shell fans should think of the Major as belonging to a larger speculative universe. “If that’s not allowed,” he said of Scarlett Johansson’s casting, “Then Darth Vader probably shouldn’t speak English, either.”
Ghost in the Shell opens everywhere on March 31.