Just say no - Scarlett Johansson's latest inexcusable role
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It was recently announced that she and Sanders will be joining forces once again for the biopic Rub and Tug in which Johansson- a cisgender woman- will be portraying Dante "Tex" Gill, a transgender man who owned illicit massage parlours in 1970s Pittsburgh. Some on Twitter have leapt to her defence, arguing that it is not fair for Johansson to be the sole recipient of the backlash, given the director and casting team's role in failing to cast a trans actor to play Gill. Nevertheless, Johansson's career has seen her in more starring roles than most actors can dream of obtaining in a lifetime: She does not need to play this role. She is far from a struggling actress having to work any job she can get to stay afloat. In many ways, this fact adds insult to injury; she was born and raised in New York City - one of the most diverse places in the world - and is now one of the richest actresses in the world. There is therefore no excuse for her not to have educated herself in issues that relate not only to society at large, but also her professional field.
Okay, yes it sucks that Scarlett Johansson excepted that role. BUT y’all can’t just ignore the fact that the director casted her. He is the one who chose to not have a trans person in that role. So they are BOTH at fault— Summer (@summer_reed9297) 4 July 2018
It's simple.— Feminist Frequency (@femfreq) 5 July 2018
Filmmakers: START GIVING TRANS ROLES TO TRANS ACTORS.
Cis actors: STOP TAKING TRANS ROLES!
Trans parts aren't your shot at a transformative Oscar-winning performance, not while Hollywood continues to overlook and marginalize trans actors.https://t.co/CMI9zPPOb1
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If Johansson's accepting of the role of Gill is ignorant, her statement in response to the criticism received for it is on another level; referencing other cisgender actors who have portrayed transgender characters, she responded "Tell them [critics] that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.” This statement reeks of ignorance and arrogance; it is the ultimate act of privilege for Johansson to be able to accept that role in the first place, let alone respond so ignorantly and insensitively, safe in the knowledge that in Hollywood she is pretty much untouchable. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that she will experience any real consequences from this decision- with the exception of another hefty paycheque, of course.
Oh word?? So you can continue to play us but we can’t play y’all? Hollywood is so fucked... I wouldn’t be as upset if I was getting in the same rooms as Jennifer Lawrence and Scarlett for cis roles, but we know that’s not the case. A mess. https://t.co/s8gBlBI1Sw— Trace Lysette (@tracelysette) 4 July 2018
As a wealthy white woman living in the US with access to some of the most advanced resources in the world, for Johansson not to understand (or not to care about) the significance of her decision is inexcusable. It is not difficult to educate oneself, nor is it asking too much of her to pay heed to what other people are telling her, swallow her pride, and admit she made a poor choice. She does not need this opportunity, but somebody else does. With her platform and audience, had she rejected the role she could have helped to contribute and bring more attention to an important discussion on the position of marginalised groups- particularly transgender people- in the Western world. In other ways, her accepting of the role has indirectly achieved that anyway, but the fact still stands: her ignorance will be rewarded with money, and maybe even critical acclaim. In future ScarJo, for your own reputation if nothing else, when you’re offered a role- unless it’s that of a straight, white, cisgender woman- you should probably just say no.
Actors who are trans never even get to audition FOR ANYTHING OTHER THAN ROLES OF TRANS CHARACTERS. THATS THE REAL ISSUE. WE CANT EVEN GET IN THE ROOM. Cast actors WHO ARE TRANS as NON TRANS CHARACTERS. I DARE YOU #RupertSanders @NewRegency #ScarlettJohansson https://t.co/RkrW8MeGcG— Jamie Clayton (@MsJamieClayton) 4 July 2018