The best part of the 'Ghost In The Shell' series could be the worst thing about the movie

Charles Pulliam-Moore 01/18/2019 at 18:39. 0 comments
News Pop & Culture Media Race Women

Today, Paramount and DreamsWorks released the first official image from its long-awaited, live-action adaptation of Ghost In The Shell, the popular anime adapted from Masamune Shirow's 1989 manga serial by the same name.

Shiro's Ghost In The Shell tells the story of Major Motoko Kusanagi, the cyborg leader of the Japanese National Public Safety Commission. In both the manga and anime, Major's usually depicted as a tough, sexually-liberated, Japanese woman with vivid purple locks. In the American adaptation, though, she's being played by Scarlett Johansson, who is, quite obviously, a white woman.

If there's anything we've learned from the American spins on Dragonball, Speed Racer, Evangelion, The Last Airbender, Akiraand Death Note, it's that Hollywood is very, very fond of casting white actors as characters of color. As problematic a trend as that is, The Nerds of Color's Keith Chow explained to me, Johansson's casting isn't all that surprising, especially considering this Ghost In The Shell is probably going to be very Americanized.

"It's also tricky because any instance of cross-cultural adaptation will be complicated," Chow told me. "The fact that this is a Hollywood movie in English automatically means elements of the original anime will be fundamentally changed."

Chow has a point. As far as anime go, Ghost In The Shell is one whose plots and character are deeply rooted in Japan's identity as a rapidly-changing, technologically-advanced nation. While the series' plot involves police hunting down cyber criminals, Major's story often focuses on her identity as a cyborg straddling the gap between traditional humanity and the cybernetic future.

Out of all of Ghost In The Shell's controversial themes, its commentary on the evolution of human gender and sexuality is easily the most eye-catching. Like many anime before it, the series featured sexually-charged imagery of women's bodies that were meant to titillate viewers, but in many cases, the sexuality was used as a narrative tool to challenge viewers' understandings of humanity.

In her series critiquing Ghost In The Shell's objectification of Major's body, writer Claire Napier declared that one of the series' strengths was its exploration of its main character's gender and sex in a world where her body was literally an object she was free to reject, rebuild, and customize.

"The Major has been given new bodies as she ages, at age-appropriate intervals," Napier argued. "What’s your image of yourself? Can you disengage from what you’ve been given?"

Unlike many of Ghost In The Shell's characters, Major lives with a fully prosthetic body inhabited by her ghost, a digital copy of her mind. Over the course of the series, Major is repeatedly questioned as to why she's continuously chosen sexualized, female shells despite the disadvantages that come along with them. When asked why she doesn't opt for a bigger, stronger, male shell, her answer is simple.

"This body’s always suited me," she says. "No other will do.”

The original Ghost In The Shell unpacked questions about identity, individuality, and what it meant to be a "real" person all while telling the story of a woman of color trying to save the world. The story was not without its problematic elements, but they were the types of issues that could be addressed intelligently in a big-budget, studio-backed film.

The American Ghost In The Shell could still touch on what made the original series so interesting, but only by using actors of color to literally act as shells for Johansson's ghost to accessorize herself with. Instead of casting an actual Japanese woman, the film stars a white woman made to look vaguely Asian while also rocking some of those funky streaks in her hair to let you know how cool she is.

"Honestly, ScarJo's casting isn't more or less egregious than other examples of whitewashing," Keith Chow told me. "In a vacuum, I'm indifferent to the casting, but we don't live in a vacuum and it's hard to ignore the pattern of whitewashing POC, and specifically Asian characters."

HighResolutionMusic.com - Download Hi-Res Songs

1 Alan Walker

Lily flac

Alan Walker. 2018. Writer: Alan Walker;Lars Kristian Rosness;Magnus Bertelsen;K-391;Didrik Handlykken;Marcus Arnbekk.
2 Skylar Grey

Everything I Need flac

Skylar Grey. 2018. Writer: Elliott Taylor;Rupert Gregson-Williams;Skylar Grey.
3 Westlife

Hello My Love flac

Westlife. 2019. Writer: Steve Mac;Ed Sheeran.
4 Alec Benjamin

Let Me Down Slowly flac

Alec Benjamin. 2019. Writer: Alec Benjamin;Sir Nolan;Michael Pollack.
5 Alan Walker

Lost Control flac

Alan Walker. 2018. Writer: Alan Walker;Thomas Troelsen;Mood Melodies;Sorana;Fredrik Borch Olsen;Magnus "Magnify" Martinsen.
6 Sam Smith

Fire On Fire flac

Sam Smith. 2018. Writer: Steve Mac;Sam Smith.
7 Conor Maynard

Way Back Home (Sam Feldt Edit) flac

Conor Maynard. 2018. Writer: Ji Hye Lee;Shaun.
8 Alan Walker

Different World flac

Alan Walker. 2018. Writer: Shy Nodi;Alan Walker;Fredrik Borch Olsen;James Njie;Marcus Arnbekk;Gunnar Greve Pettersen;K-391;Corsak;Shy Martin;Magnus Bertelsen.
9 Post Malone

Sunflower flac

Post Malone. 2018. Writer: Carl Rosen;Louis Bell;Billy Walsh;Carter Lang;Swae Lee;Post Malone.
10 The Chainsmokers

Hope flac

The Chainsmokers. 2018. Writer: Kate Morgan;Chris Lyon;Alex Pall;Andrew Taggart.
11 Normani

Dancing With A Stranger flac

Normani. 2019. Writer: Mikkel S. Eriksen;Tor Hermansen;Jimmy Napes;Normani;Sam Smith.
12 Deniz Koyu

Eclipse flac

Deniz Koyu. 2019.
13 Gesaffelstein

Lost In The Fire flac

Gesaffelstein. 2019. Writer: Ahmad Balshe;Nate Donmoyer;Gesaffelstein;DaHeala;The Weeknd.
14 Alan Walker

I Don't Wanna Go flac

Alan Walker. 2018.
15 Backstreet Boys

No Place flac

Backstreet Boys. 2019.
16 Loren Gray

Anti-Everything flac

Loren Gray. 2019.
17 Imagine Dragons

Believer flac

Imagine Dragons. 2019. Writer: Robin Fredriksson;Mattman & Robin;Wayne Sermon;Dan Reynolds;Daniel Platzman;Ben McKee;Justin Tranter;Mattias Larsson.
18 Ran-D

Zombie (Bassjackers Remix) flac

Ran-D. 2019.
19 Calvin Harris

Giant flac

Calvin Harris. 2019. Writer: Calvin Harris;Rag'n'Bone Man;Jamie Hartman;Troy Miller.
20 Tom & Jame⁠

Waiting flac

Tom & Jame⁠. 2019.

Suggested posts

Other Charles Pulliam-Moore's posts

Language