Scarlett Johansson is coming under fire following the announcement of her new movie “Rub & Tug” – yes, that is the name of the film – to be directed by Robert Sanders. This isn’t the first time the actress has come under fire for her casting, facing criticism for a ‘whitewashed’ portrayal in the box-office flop “Ghost in the Shell”, which ironically was also directed by Sanders.
Responding to the social media comments, Johansson told magazine Bustle:
“Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment”
She refers to other cisgender actors playing transgender characters – Leto in “Dallas Buyers Club”, Huffman in “Transamerica” and Tambor’s portrayal of a transgender woman in “Transparent”. Ironically, these actors all received critical acclaim and awards for their portrayals.
“Rub & Tug” will see Johansson play a massage parlour owner named Dante “Tex” Gill, who is a transmasculine crime boss – however the real life Gill is being described as a lesbian “who dressed like a man in suits and ties, wore short hair and sideburns and preferred to be called ‘Mr. Gill.’”
Therefore, it’s ambiguous Gill actually undertook gender reassignment surgery or just identified as a male in real life.
Regardless of this debate, the real concern here from the internet is that this could be a chance for a transgender actor to play the character, instead of a female actress who identifies as a cisgender woman. Some are likening the casting to the ‘blackface’ tradition.
Perhaps 5-10 years ago, this wouldn’t have been an issue. But in the days of identity politics, and social justice movements, perhaps we all have to ‘get with the times’, as we constantly tell our parents/grandparents.
I tend to “nope” out of all controversial discussion as I personally believe they breed conflict, and I’m not a big fan of being so PC that we can no longer just live our lives in blissful freedom – or perhaps ignorance is a better word. Feel free to throw shade at me, but that’s just me. In the case of Johansson, I think it’s more a case of Sanders showing favouritism over equal employment.