Ghost in the Shell: Another Appropriation of Culture by Hollywood?

After teasing small clips of footage over the past few months, Paramount has finally released the first trailer for 2017’s Ghost in the Shell, a live-action film. The film, based on the popular manga and anime films of the same name, follows a character known as “The Major” who is a counter-cyberterrorist agent. The story deals heavily with technology and robotics (the character of The Major is herself a cyborg, which could lead to some interesting plot points).

The film has faced a lot of criticism for casting Scarlett Johansson as The Major. Yet again, Hollywood is accused of white-washing a character who comes from Asian descent. This could be as bad as casting Emma Stone as an Asian character. The character of The Major is, of course, a Japanese character, and Johansson is far from Japanese. But, despite the controversy, the film is already in post-production. So there is no changing it now.

Since we can’t fix what was done, we have to judge it for what it is, and from the trailer this film is interesting, to say the least. Creepy visuals as well as some exciting sci-fi action makes this film look really good. It’s a shame that a film that doesn’t seem to respect its source material looks like it may be a really good film. But, it could be the film that opens the door for change. Despite some major roles being given to white actors, there are some big roles still filled by Asian actors. This, plus the potential success of the film, could open the door to future live-action adaptations of anime and manga properties.

This would open the door for studios to start making these films with more Asian actors. However, the opposite could also be said. Since Scarlett Johansson is so heavily tied to this film its success could be linked to the starring actress, leading these films to be continually white-washed for years to come.

But for now, we have Ghost in the Shell, which looks very interesting. It resembles a newer retelling of Blade Runner with a Japanese perspective. It’s hard to judge a film based on two and a half minutes that may or may not even remain in the final cut of the film, but it’s hard to say this movie doesn’t look even the slightest bit interesting from what Paramount has given us.

Ryan Horan

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