Scarlett Johansson faces backlash for her transgender role in new film


Scarlett Johansson is (again) the center of Hollywood casting controversy, this time for taking on the role of a transgender man for the film Rub & Tug.

Scarlett Johansson never seemed to learn the very important lesson that just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

In 2017, Johansson faced massive criticism for her role in Ghost in the Shell and for good reason. Johansson’s character Motoko Kusanagi was originally Japanese, coming from the Japanese manga of the same name by Masamune Shirow. Negative reporting of Johansson’s “whitewashed” role were made worse with stories of visual effects used to make Johansson appear more Asian.

Johansson’s response to the controversy?

"I certainly would never presume to play another race of a person. Diversity is important in Hollywood, and I would never want to feel like I was playing a character that was offensive."

It is unfortunate how events can repeat themselves, especially for Johansson and the roles she takes on. She’s facing major backlash again, this time for her being cast as a transgender man in the film, Rub & Tug.

The new movie is based on Dante “Tex” Gill, a transgender man who was a proprietor of massage parlors that acted as fronts for prostitution from the1970s to 1980s.

Johansson will star as Dante, who was born Jean Marie Gill but identified as a man. She’s paired up again with Ghost in the Shell director Rupert Sanders. Despite massive criticism over Johansson, a cisgender woman, taking on a transgender role, it doesn’t seem the duo has any issue causing the same drama all over again.

Bustle shared a statement from an unidentified rep for the actress, quoting this as coming from Johansson herself: “Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.”

Not the best move. Especially with bringing up Tambor, seeing as he faced his own criticism for taking on a trans role and was fired from Transparent after sexual harassment allegations by transgender actresses Trace Lysette and another transgender woman, Tambor’s former assistant Van Barnes.

Johansson’s statement, plus the casting news overall, has lit up across social media.

Transparent‘s Trace Lysette called Johansson out for her role, noting it may be easy for Johansson to play non-cis roles, but the same opportunities don’t come so easily for transgender actors.

Lysette added the “twisted” notion of cis actors being awarded for “mimicking” the transgender experience.

Sense8 star Jamie Clayton remarked how transgender actors “can’t even get in the room” to be considered for these roles. Johansson, however, doesn’t face that block.

Some on social expressed how they don’t want to learn about trans people’s stories this way, and ScarJo may be boycotted entirely because of this move.

Others tried to gift some humor to the situation, with ScarJo taking on much more ridiculous roles.

Pose star Indya Moore said it best, with this simple but biting reply to Johansson’s casting.

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Perhaps Johansson should think back on her words from a year ago. Playing this character is offensive to the transgender community, and dismissing those who see it as such is much worse.