90 Miles From Tyranny : Scarlett Johansson Flap Shows How Identity Politics Could Ruin Acting

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Scarlett Johansson Flap Shows How Identity Politics Could Ruin Acting

Actors make a living portraying other people’s identities. It’s what they do, and they’ve done it for millennia.

Yet today, loud voices for political correctness are seeking to redraw the lines of acceptable identity portrayal.

The question is: Who has the right to play who on the big screen? Political correctness says: Only actors with the right identity and lived experience.

Scarlett Johansson has become Exhibit A in this debate.

First, she took flak in 2017 for playing a Japanese character in the live-action remake of the 1995 anime film “Ghost in the Shell.” The following year, controversy erupted when she accepted the role of a transgender character in “Rub and Tug.” Many thought that role should have gone to a real trans person.

Succumbing to public pressure, she withdrew from the role, and in doing so she hit the predictable PC notes:
Our cultural understanding of transgender people continues to advance, and I’ve learned a lot from the community since making my first statement about my casting and realize it was insensitive.

I have great admiration and love for the trans community and am grateful that the conversation regarding inclusivity in Hollywood continues.
But it hardly ended there.

In a more recent interview with As If magazine, Johansson may have let her true feelings slip. She expressed regret at losing the role, saying she “should be allowed to play any person, or any tree, or any animal because that is my job and the requirements of my job.”

Of political correctness, she said:
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.
But soon after those comments went public, she clarified yet again, saying they were taken out of context:
I personally feel that, in an ideal world, any actor should be able to play anybody, and art, in all forms, should be immune to political correctness. I recognize that in reality, there is a widespread discrepancy amongst my industry that favors Caucasian, cisgender actors, and that not every actor has been given the same opportunities that I have been privileged to.
Johansson is clearly caught between two poles: the acting profession as it’s always been, and the ascendant moral code of identity politics—and the two cannot both win out.

No doubt, you might be thinking, “So what if she’s not actually transgender? If she plays the role well, if it’s compelling, who cares what she is in real life? That’s the nature of...

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Unknown said...

Let them die on their own sword. The patron wants the best for the performance. If artistic ability is supplanted by a contrived allegiance to what is 'correct', the audience will become few until the perpetrators have brought ruin upon themselves. Let it be their story; there are plenty of other venues which do not succumb to such mental feces.