(Source: Mean Girls, Paramount Pictures.)
Everyone is up in arms about Scarlett Johansson playing a trans man in her newest film. This, coming after the backlash of whitewashing the role of Motoko Kusanagi from ‘Ghost in the Shell.’ I don’t dislike her, though there are some things about her association with Woody Allen to be problematic. I don’t think this role is right for her.
Before I go any further, let me admit that I have played roles that did not fit my cultural background, gender, sexual orientation, or age group. If an actor does their job well, then you should know them by the role they embody more than the person themselves. However, Scarlett Johansson has reached the point in several of her roles where she is “Scarlett” in a film, and not the character she is playing. Therefore, the character of Dante Gill will not be portrayed correctly.
Now if it were up to me to find an actual trans man, who looks like Gill, and can act, that would be my preference. It’s a challenge, however, since I would have an extremely small pool to work from. The closest I would be able cast is Lea DeLaria from ‘Orange is the New Black.’
The biggest issue I have with casting films in Hollywood is the cronyism associated with it. In this case Ms. Johansson is working with the same director from ‘GITS’, which is pissing people off further (myself included.) I get it: if you want to work consistently, it’s best to build a strong network and work with many of the same people. Roles like Gill need a little more thought and use of common sense before calling up your homie to take the part….
But I digress.