Scarlett Johansson has dropped out the role in which she would have been playing a transgender man after intense backlash from the community.
Johansson was cast to play Dante ‘Tex’ Grill, a 1970s Pittsburgh crime boss. He was born Jean Gill. When the decision was announced, there was heavy criticism that Johansson was not fit for the role, given her lack of understanding of the experiences of transgender people. Criticism was also raised over the fact that a large number of transgender actors had been overlooked in favor of Johansson.
The actress recently decided to give up the role, even though earlier she had defended her casting. Speaking to Out Magazine, she said, “I’ve learned a lot from the community since making my first statement. While I would have loved the opportunity to bring Dante’s story and transition to life, I understand why many feel he should be portrayed by a transgender person. I am thankful that this casting debate… has sparked a larger conversation about diversity and representation in film.”
People had a variety of reactions to Johansson dropping out of the movie. While some applauded her for listening to backlash and doing the right thing, others believed that she had stepped down unnecessarily due to pressure exerted by the LGBTQ community. Yet others also said that since the actor’s job is essentially to mirror a character, it is redundant to criticize them for what kind of character they portray.
Now that the LGBT community has pressured heterosexual actor Scarlett Johansson into dropping her role as a transgender, when can we expect heterosexual actor Sean Penn to return his Oscar for "Milk"?
— Larry Elder (@larryelder) July 14, 2018
So Scarlett Johansson quit her role but I hate how the headlines say that lgbt people bullied her to do that…?
— ☕️My name is Shatter. I’m the cat sent from Japan. (@catdogisg) July 14, 2018
Scarlett Johansson's official statement on Rub & Tug: pic.twitter.com/MGnUk6g2So
— Britt Hayes (@MissBrittHayes) July 13, 2018
To exhibit the spirit of generosity I earnestly want to see more of, I am going to take Scarlett Johansson at her word that she listened to feedback, realized that despite her intentions this was going to cause harm, and made the right decision to step down. Well done.
— Jen Richards (@SmartAssJen) July 13, 2018
Looks like Scarlett Johansson finally learned her lesson about the importance of proper representation in film and dropped out of the transgender biopic. Too bad she didn't figure this out before she shot Ghost in the Shell. pic.twitter.com/uRgczEkzM0
— Joshua Yehl (@JoshuaYehl) July 13, 2018
Johansson has been criticized for taking inappropriate roles before as well, such as when she was cast in the remake of the Japanese anime Ghost in the Shell. She was cast as a character that was written as Asian, and was accused of ‘whitewashing’.