Scarlett Johansson responds to backlash for new transgender film role
Scarlett Johansson addresses the backlash she received from critics on her new transgender film role. (Reuters)
Scarlett Johansson has responded to critics after facing backlash for announcing that she is to portray a transgender character in an upcoming film project.
After news broke that the actress is slated to play a transgender character in the film "Rub & Tug," critics immediately flocked to Twitter to express their disapproval of Johannson's new role.
Literally the LEAST you could do when making a movie about trans people is to cast a trans person in the role that was written for them. Scarlett Johansson needs to stop naievely choosing roles, and studios need to do better.— Derek Abolish ICE Sherry 🌹 (@NotKyleSherry) July 4, 2018
No offense to Scarlett Johansson but there are many beautiful trans women in the world, and I MEAN MANY...so ask Hollywood to keep looking!— Tshepi Makhatha (@TshepiMakhatha) July 4, 2018
Dear #ScarlettJohansson, the way you can use your privilege as a white cis woman is to amplify the voices of underrepresented communities, not speak for them.— Elise Bauman (@baumanelise) July 4, 2018
Though some defended her choice to take on the controversial role.
Why is everyone mad that #ScarlettJohansson is playing a trans character? Yes I understand that the lgbt community rather have a trans character play a trans, but by that logic it’s saying, gays can only play gay, straight only straight, so on. She’s a great actress..(1/2)— Vince Cardieri (@VinceCardieri) July 4, 2018
#ScarlettJohansson All you idiots bashing on Scarlett Johansson for portraying a transgender male in a film even though she is cis:— menaka (@xerohy) July 4, 2018
This is not a documentary. This is a film. She is not transgender in real life, she is ACTING as one. That’s what ACTORS do.
Following the criticism, Johansson released a statement obtained by Bustle, via a rep which read: "Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman's reps for comment."
Johansson's comment referred to other actors and actresses who have been critically acclaimed for their portrayals as transgender characters in recent years.
In 2000, Hilary Swank won the Oscar for playing a female transiting into a male in the hit film "Boys Don’t Cry," and five years later, Felicity Huffman portrayed a transgender man in the film "Transamerica."
Later in 2014, Jared Leto won the Oscar for his performance as a transgender woman dying of AIDS in "Dallas Buyer’s Club," while Eddie Redmayne was nominated for his role of transgender pioneer Lili Elbe in "The Danish Girl."
According to Bustle, "Rub & Tug" tells the story of a transgender man, Dante "Tex" Gill, played by Johansson, who owns a massage parlor in Pittsburgh’s underground sex industry in the 1970s.
But this isn't the first time the actress has been scrutinized for her film roles. Back in 2015, Johansson took on the role of an Asian character and was accused of white-washing the film "Ghost In The Shell." The film, which was based off a Japanese manga character, sparked a petition to recast her in the role.
Johansson addressed the backlash in a 2017 interview with Maire Claire and said that she “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,” she said before defending her decision to star in the film. “Also, having a franchise with a female protagonist driving it is such a rare opportunity. Certainly, I feel the enormous pressure of that — the weight of such a big property on my shoulders.”
You can find Morgan M. Evans on Twitter @themizfactor.