|So... I'm racist because a robot wasn't Asian? Really?|
For background purposes, I'd never seen the original comic book or movie or whatever the hell it was. All I knew was that it was some sort of animated Japanese thing.
The verdict, in short, was that I very much enjoyed it. Will it be on my top 10 favorite movies list? Probably not. Would I watch it again some day? Sure.
From the very little research I did, it seems that people's biggest reason for not enjoying it (among those who actually watched it; more on that soon) was that it didn't live up to or was unfaithful to the source material.
Again, I know nothing of the source material so I'm cool with that. And in broader strokes, it really kind of hacks me off when people bitch about that. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, for example, was a lovely little film that veered pretty wildly from the source material (to the chagrin of morons everywhere) but you know what? That's fine. I've already read the books. I don't need to see them again. In fact, I watched the British TV version of Hitchhiker's and it was line-for-freaking-line the exact same as the book. I was bored to death. It was awful.
Movies should differ from the source or they risk being stale.
Ghost in the Shell gets my official Walrus of Approval. There's my review, and it was short because there's something else we need to talk about here.
When this movie came out, I remember there being a major uproar about how Hollywood was being whitewashed because Scarlett Johansson was playing an Asian person. My response to that was "Yeah, that seems a bit wrong. Bad move on the studios part, but..."
People get roles outside of their race all the time in the movies, and right or wrong it's honestly not shocking anymore.
My feeling was that it was silly and maybe a bit of a turnoff, but in a country where Asians are nowhere near the majority of the population, the big name actresses aren't going to be Asian. Therefore, while I expected it to bug people, I figured it was just a business decision to get a big name actress into the lead role so people would see this very expensive effects-laden movie and the studio wouldn't lose money.
The rest of the world, of course, took it a little harder than I did. After all, it's 2017 and everyone's hobby seems to be some combination of staring at their phone and getting offended by stupid shit, so why stop now?
In one respect, my assumption was correct--the studio wanted Scarlett Johansson instead of an Asian actress because she's a major name that will draw attention and fans.
Here's what I didn't know: Scarlett's character isn't an Asian person. It's a robot.
For those of you who need a slap or two to figure out why this is relevant, robots don't have race. They're robots. What race is your microwave? Your fridge? Your iPhone?
Scarlett's character is a robot with a human brain. Yes, that human brain turns out to have belonged to an Asian person, but with the people who built her wanting to obscure her past, why is it hard to believe that they'd put her Asian brain in a body that doesn't appear Asian? Wouldn't that actually be more likely so as to throw her off the trail of her true past?
"Durr but it's Japanese source material taking place in Asia so the lead character must be Asian!"
Secondly, are we really going to say that changing the apparent race of a character to something different from the original is racist?
Ford Prefect in the earlier-mentioned Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a regular white British fellow in the books, but he's played in the movie by the obviously black Mos Def. If I say that's wrong, I'm pretty sure the racism police would be at the door in a flash.
A recent remake of the Broadway classic Annie had multiple characters (including the lead) transmuted to black. Again, if I say that's wrong and bad and an affront to the source material, I'd rightfully be labelled racist.
In more recent times, the previously white Wonder Woman was played by Gal Gadot--an Israeli--to near-universal acclaim.
So why is it racist for Scarlett to play a character that once appeared (appeared not was, mind you, because she's a raceless robot) to be Asian? It seems that the toxic notion that only white people can be racist is rearing its ugly head again.
One can only assume that ignorance is to blame for this. A handful of morons began shrieking "Injustice!" and the vast multitudes of ovine dimwits that populate the internet parroted the complaints without bothering to check any facts or use their brains at all.
My apathy led me to similar ignorance, so in that respect I suppose I'm not entirely blameless, but you can be sure if I'd felt the need to join the hordes trying to drown you all in a river of righteous tears about Scarlett's alleged misdeeds I would have read up on it a bit first.
Another thought for your consideration: this movie underperformed at the box office.
Now Scarlett Johansson isn't about to go broke; she made millions for this film alone. The studios are likewise probably doing fine. But there are a lot of people involved in a movie with vastly differing situations. What if someone lost their job because of your idiotic protest against nonexistent racism? What if this was someone's only chance to work on a movie set and now that chance is blown because the movie didn't live up to financial expectations because you and your fellow cattle boycotted it and spread half-truths and outright lies about it?
Maybe everyone's fine. Maybe these protests are just a foolish little grain in the sands of time. Either way this culture of self-appointed martyrs, pathological victims, and imagined racism continues to make me ill.