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People Use Ghost in the Shell Meme Generator to Mock Whitewashing

2 minute read

The controversial decision to cast Scarlett Johansson in the lead role for Ghost in the Shell raised questions last year about why filmmakers chose to use a white American actor as opposed to an Asian one for the film remake of a Japanese manga narrative.

Some fans, as well as Asian and Asian American actors pointed to the casting choice of Johansson as Major Motoko Kusanagi (known as “the Major”) as yet another example of “whitewashing” Asian characters with white actors, pointing to recent examples including Matt Damon’s turn in The Great Wall and Emma Stone’s role in Aloha.

Now, however, fans are showing how they feel about the casting using the film’s own promotional materials. As part of the movie’s marketing campaign, a Ghost in the Shell meme generator was created where fans can input text and photos to create their own custom image and caption. As might be expected, the Internet used this opportunity to take mock the movie’s whitewashing after one fan saw the chance and ran with it.

Another pointed to the long history of whitewashing in Hollywood.

And others pointed to recent whitewashing episodes in the entertainment industry.

A fan provided context for the original Major with their meme.

Others still pointed to white privilege.

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Write to Cady Lang at cady.lang@timemagazine.com