Scarlett Johansson's messy movie role choices: What the trans-community has to say about her being cast as trans man
"Rub & Tug" is based on the real-life story of Dante “Tex” Gill — a trans crime boss of the 1970s — who ran several massage parlours and preferred to be known as a man.
It's clear, Scarlett Johansson is back on her nonsense. But the core problem Hollywood itself is pretty biased when it comes to casting. And as if cultural appropriation and racial compromises don't get done enough by people not related directly to the TV and movie industry, certain roles get cast with such absolute lack for precision that one would think it's completely okay to whitewash anything to fit into convenience, or worse the societal norms of beauty. And that brings us to this mess Scarlett Johansson seems to have landed herself in, yet again.
The 33-year-old actress is in between one of the most pivotal movies of her career in recent time, that is Marvel's Avengers. With Infinity War just getting over and Avenger's 4 due next year, it's quite easy to deduce that Johansson could have gotten faintly bored and made some bad choices in terms of the roles she's choosing to play. But sadly, agreeing to play a trans man in the upcoming movie "Rub & Tug" isn't the only time she has appropriated a community, or culture that she, in no fathomable way, could ever identify with.
As revealed, "Rub & Tug" is based on the real-life story of Dante “Tex” Gill — a trans crime boss of the 1970s — who ran several massage parlors and preferred to be known as a man.
Previously, Johansson had also teamed up with "Rub & Tug"s director, Rupert Sanders, for "Ghost in the Shell" — a movie which was severely bashed for whitewashing an Asian character by making Johansson play her on screen. And as several different Twitter users have already pointed out — how does the same team of people make the exact same mistake twice? Despite having it slammed right back to their faces the first time around?
Clearly, it wasn't a mistake they are willing to learn from; not even a genuine one at that. This isn't a mistake at all, as is clear. Hollywood is so conditioned into believing that American beauty standards are the ones they should abide by that the gravity of the situation doesn't hit them.
The indifference and insolence with which the portrayal of people of the LGBTQ community and other minority races are dealt with is — in simple terms — pretty pathetic for an industry this massive.
Two very vocal members of the transgender-community — especially actors — have also spoken out since the news of Johansson's casting surfaced.
Trace Lysette, known for her work on Transparent, took to her social media, tweeting, "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."
She follows it up, saying, "And not only do you play us and steal our narrative and our opportunity but you pat yourselves on the back with trophies and accolades for mimicking what we have lived... so twisted. I’m so done..."
Jamie Clayton, Lysette' fellow member of the trans-actor community, and actor of “Sense8” and “The Neon Demon”had some interesting points to make, which not only rattled up the respective community but also came as a massive shock to most people. Clayton tweeted, "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."
Several Twitter users pointed out how easy it is to just get a trans-man to play the role of one in movies. And others went on to point out how the director who cast her is equally at fault in the first place. And of course, making a very subtle reference to the X-Men franchise, a particular user shared, "does scarlett johansson think that she is mystique."
For those who don't know - Mystique is an X-Men character with superpowers to transform into anybody including different ethnicities, genders, and looks and by the looks of it, Johansson is not quite far from evolving into one. And all of this coming right in the wake of her Times-Up activism which pretty much lost all its gravity after this.
A very disappointed Twitter user addressed the issue, saying, "Scarlett Johansson is the type of white woman that complains about injustice only to turn around and underhand POC and trans ppl RATHER than do anything to stand up to rich white men...."
But after all, was said and done — the problem still remained to be Johansson — in the form of her very disappointing response to all the social media flak this casting decision was getting. All her rep had to say to Bustle was, "Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman's reps for comment."