The whitewashing in the movie

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The whitewashing in the film starts in the same way as most scandals in the world's easily accessed internet do: with a single shot of Scarlet Johansson (Thakur, 2017). She was rumored to be the lead character in the film Ghost in the Shell. Although the film was supposed to be released in January 2015, due to the uproar that the people were causing, it took longer than expected. However, the publication of the photo has sparked anger among fans, which has reached a fever pitch (Cohen & Taylor, 2017). The photo that was by then trending in social media spoke volumes about the racial preference and ethnic history that seemed to be quite troubling to the people. In the picture that Scarlett was in, she was dressed in a collar-hiked bomber jacket, and the face she portrays is that of a cast staring deeply into a reflexive surface. Also, the same picture shows her touting in a bob that is black-dyed, and it contains bangs of purple corkscrews. In so doing, she is meant to play to play the roles that were initially for Major Motoko Kusanagi (Robinson, 2016). This is a form of culture appropriation and whitewashing which upsets most fans.

Whitewashing and Culture

The actual sense of the matter is that the people are used to seeing their favorite actors casting behind the screens vividly playing their roles. However, when they anticipate for the same in a newly trending movie as it was planned, but then the roles get interchanged, and the parts preferably meant for their specific actor are given to other people, they get upset (Thakur, 2017). These case scenarios are known to take place in the movies that are directed and produced in Hollywood. In Hollywood movies, whitewashing is quite intense; women are given men's part to play, whites are given the parts meant for the black actors, American actors act the parts meant for people of another origin preferably the Persians. In so doing, the director of the movie only puts into consideration the interests of the citizens of the United States of America, the rest are left lurking around to select the movies they can enjoy at their leisure time.

The reality of the matter is that such directors do what they feel is right for them and forget what the people who will be gluing their eyes on the big screens would want to see. This is a huge problem that the directors mostly from Hollywood need to pay keen attention to and see how it can be fixed before it causes more controversy than it already did in both the current and the recent past. A good example of whitewashing is when an American actor is given the part that is meant for a citizen of the Russian country or rather the Asian continent (Thakur, 2017). The people watching would want to hear the accent from an Asian actor and not the voice of an American actor striving to talk like an Asian. This way, the movie loses the taste that it would have had if the part was played by the person who was meant to do it.

In the movie Ghost in the Shell, Scarlett Johansson is intended to play the part that was to be for a black actor. The perception the audience have is that of a strong black man playing his role perfectly in the movie. However, the people get devastated on realizing that the part to be done by the strong black actors is getting played by a soft-lipped American woman (Cohen & Taylor, 2017). The initial thought and comment they have about women players is that most of them are weak and cannot play the men roles in a perfect manner let alone those meant for black American men. The reversing of the roles is a show of how the movie industry is slowly trying to fade away the culture of the people and appropriating the roles they partake of in the society which is entirely wrong (Thakur, 2017). This is because; the beauty behind the origin of a person is the history underlying his/her culture. But the instance they get stripped of the same, they fade away and lose the meaning they would have had to the society if at al they still had the culture that is valued by them.

The Kickback of Whitewashing

Just as I had mentioned before, the preference the people develop about a movie heavily relies on the casting that is portrayed in it. The instance the roles change, the people opt for other things to do other than watching the movies that will only serve to get them upset in due course. In Ghost in the Shell, the people who could not hold their breath while waiting for the movie to hit the cinemas were in deep shock coupled with ample disappointment towards the Hollywood director of the film. Their anticipations were that Major Motoko would play his role in the film just as it was planned yet the picture that came forth before the release of the movie got them wondering what had happened. Since the fans are angered, they would retaliate by not watching the movie at all when it gets released since they can easily predict the scenes in it that will just make sad. They opt to watch other movies instead or rather find something better to do with their precious time.

Other than just choosing not to watch the film, there are reviews and thoughts that people write in YouTube below the movies; they might give it a poor review or express their deep disappointment. In so doing, the credibility that the movies produced in Hollywood were having would be tampered. Instead of movie fanatics watching movies, they might decide to read the synopsis and get done. Also, they can just watch a short trailer of the movie and leave it at that. The latter may be taking place in the other continents while those in the United States of America enjoy watching the movies cast by the people of their origin which is unfair. The motifs behind the production of a movie are that the people from different continents get to enjoy the movie equally and not the consideration of the interest of just a few people while the rest get overwhelmed in the wave of disappointment.

Effects of whitewashing to the Casts

While other actors feel that I t is fun to take the roles of others in a film, they do not know the effects that this has on them and their career. As much as fans might like seeing their favorite actor in a movie, they get devastated when their parts are partaken by someone else. In so doing, they detest the whitewashing actor (Cohen & Taylor, 2017). The instant people start hating an actor; it is the point that the actor's career begins to stumble between a rock and hard surface without their knowledge. Having fans is quite an encouraging factor for an actor compared to just being celebrated within the boundaries of the United States.

Hollywood’s Asian Problem

Considering the fact that Ghost in the Shell, is a Japanese anime movie, the lead role in it was expected without a doubt would be a Japanese actor. The controversy arises and poses the question inquiring whether Hollywood has a problem with either the Asian continent or just the Asian actors in general. Making Scarlett the lead role in a Japanese movie is not the right move to make taking into consideration the thought that the first people who would have more interest in watching the film would be the Japanese citizens compared to those from other countries (Chong, 2017). There is joy in watching a movie that casts the actors you meet in Shopping Malls and supermarkets doing their shopping, Car wash taking their rides for a cleaning session, hotels enjoying their meals and even in restaurants grabbing that drink, you seem to enjoy too.

Truth be told, in most cases, the production lines claim that the movie producers know what they are doing when they interchange roles in films, but the one in Ghost in the Shell was a big blow for Hollywood. This was because it attracted a whole lot of complaints from the Fans most of whom were the Japanese Citizens while the rest were from the Asian continent. They were all wondering whether Hollywood label has a problem with Asia. They wanted to know if at all there were an unsettled matter between Japanese and Hollywood label that were still pending awaiting resolutions (Chong, 2017).

Hidden Agenda

Since Ghost in the Shell involves the transplanting of a microchip into Scarlett Johansson’s brain and transforming her into a robotic being, the Hollywood director might have been trying to prove a point to the Japanese government through the movie. The recent movies that have been produced by the Hollywood label seem to be exploring the anxieties about technology and the ways it can be manipulated to change to modify the course of the universe (Chong, 2017). In the movie, Scarlett who is the leading cast is portrayed to have been involved in a fatal road carnage that caused the death of her parents and then she is made into a weapon. She barely remembers what had transpired in her past but the orders that are given to her by her purported maker. The change in roles of the cast might have been a way of telling Japan that the United States of America is more technologically advanced.

Scarlett may be symbolic of the American continent and the anticipated cast Major Motoko a representation of Japan. The decision to replace him with her is also questionable. It alludes to the fact that the USA can make significant decisions affecting Japan without the country doing anything about it. It may be so considering the fact that Japan and the United States of America under President Donald Trump have not been in good terms. In the manner that human beings behave in the 21st century, it's hard to tell whether allegations are true or not. People use the slightest opportunities they get to tell what is in their minds.

Minority Representation

There are factors to think of when casting a movie since it is meant for anyone in the universe. One of the imperative things that a director ought to look into is the issue of minority representation in the film. It ensures that their interests are not tossed in the dustbin when the casting is done. It also makes them feel happy that their existence is known. According to Chow (2017), the previous year had a lot of issues that were mainly pointing at the matter of Asian-American representation. In the same year, the musicians Beyonce and Coldplay were at the top of critiqued list for appropriating the culture of the Indian people in their video, "Hymn for the Weekend.” The latter coupled with the whitewashing in the movie Ghost in the Shell, spark controversies over the real deal Hollywood had with Asia people. Representing them in musical pieces and movies is not bad, but they should be included to play the roles meant for them since they play them better than those whitewashing them.

Seemingly, the rate at which the people of the Asian continent get whitewashed in either movies or films is not encouraging since it makes their culture to fade away into thin air. Also, it creates a growing consciousness of the need to have Asian-American representation in pieces that hit the media. It will be much of relief if the Hollywood producers consider releasing an Asian-American film to calm the culture appropriation and whitewashing that has caused a lot of controversies in the recent past and the current day (Thakur, 2017). It would be the best way to try cover up for the mistakes that have been done and the lack of representation of the minority groups.

Claiming visibility in the movies may not be such an easy thing to do since it involves the integration of the culture that seems to be popular in the United States of America in a violent manner (Chong, 2017). In so doing, it delineates the racist misrepresentation to bring about national visibility through the correct casting. This way, the mainstream that enters the media suits all groups of people and none of them feel disadvantaged in any way whatsoever. In such a case scenario, the whitewashing problem would have been put at bay. A movie that is produced and directed by the Hollywood speaks a lot about the USA and how it chooses to view other people including the minority groups in the world.


Whitewashed casting and the appropriation of the cultural practices that some people hold close to their hearts are some of the things in the film industry that annoy people. When their culture gets appropriated, it makes it lose the spark that it once had. In the same context, the whitewashing of the roles of Asian actors as it was evident in Ghost in the Shell also makes the Asian people start questioning the real deal behind the casting of the movie (Chow, 2016). The lead role in the movie would have really pleased the Japanese if at all it would have been cast by Major Kusanagi Motoko who is of Japanese origin considering that it's a Japanese animation film. Factoring visibility may be an important way of fixing the dented image of the Hollywood label even though it may not be easy.


Chong, S. S. H. (2017). What Was Asian American Cinema?. Cinema Journal, 56(3), 130-135.

Chow, K. (2016). Why Won’t Hollywood Cast Asian Actors?. The New York Times.

Cohen, D. S., & Taylor, R. (2017). The art of the Ghost in the shell.

Robinson, C. K. (2016). Role whitewashing. Guardian (Sydney), (1731), 11.

Thakur, H. (2017). A Shell Without A Ghost: Ghost in the Shell (2017).

October 13, 2022


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