Scarlett Johansson is feeling the heat on social media in light of a new interview published in As If magazine. The actress apparently has some strong opinions on the relationship between art and being politically correct, sparking dismay and raised eyebrows.
Johansson, one of the world’s highest-paid actors, is featured on the magazine’s cover for its spring/summer issue, where she’s praised for her “screen-goddess superpowers.” During the interview, roles, characters, style, and love for acting were discussed, but it was Johansson’s comments on casting that rubbed some people the wrong way.
Which comments irritated people the most
For context, there were two instances in the past two years where controversy ensued due to Johansson’s casting. One of the most infamous moments was 2017’s Ghost in the Shell, where fans decried the movie’s whitewashing of an Asian character. Johansson played the lead Motoko in the movie adaptation of a Japanese anime. People were not happy about the casting, citing that people of color already have struggles when it comes to representation onscreen.
Last year, she pulled out of a film after accepting the role of a transgender man. She was cast as Dante Gill in Rub & Tug, and there was an outcry against her portrayal of a transgender male since she is a cisgender woman. Many felt that the part should have gone to someone who is part of the LGBTQ community, a group that’s also considered to be marginalized and underrepresented in Hollywood.
Vulture cites that the Black Widow actress was initially “dismissive” about criticism toward her for Rub & Tug, which eventually led to an apology.
With that in mind, Johansson was asked during the As If interview about her thoughts on acting/casting trends in Hollywood, and she replied:
“We live in such a weird time that is sort of identity-less in a lot of ways. I don’t know if there’s a trend in performance, but there’s certainly trends in casting right now. Today there’s a lot of emphasis and conversation about what acting is and who we want to see represent ourselves on screen. The question now is, what is acting anyway?
You know, as an actor I should be allowed to play any person, or any tree, or any animal because that is my job and the requirements of my job. There are a lot of social lines being drawn now, and a lot of political correctness is being reflected in art.
You know, I feel like it’s a trend in my business and it needs to happen for various social reasons, yet there are times it does get uncomfortable when it affects the art because I feel art should be free of restrictions.”
Her commentary on being able to play any person, tree, or animal that she pleases is what really set people off.
Reactions to Johansson’s words were swift
Twitter users had no filter when calling out Johansson about the interview, mocking her position while calling her privileged. Some are poignant and some are hilarious:
In light of the recent backlash, Johansson issued a statement through her publicist in an attempt to reframe her sentiments. She said that her words were taken out of context and edited for clickbait. Here is an excerpt from The Washington Post:
“I recognize that in reality, there is a widespread discrepancy amongst my industry that favors Caucasian, cis gendered actors and that not every actor has been given the same opportunities that I have been privileged to. I continue to support, and always have, diversity in every industry and will continue to fight for projects where everyone is included.”
As the debate rages on about Johansson’s comments and Hollywood casting decisions, some are pointing out that Johansson’s defenders should also defend all diversity in movies, such as the case of Halle Bailey playing Ariel in The Little Mermaid. In the meantime, everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, but you can read Scar Jo’s interview in its entirety on As If.