Scarlett Johansson, garbage, casting, trans, transgender, responses, memes

At Least Scarlett Johansson’s Garbage Trans Appropriation Has Given Us Some Great Memes

Also, a reeducation from trans actors.
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Earlier this week, it was announced that Scarlett Johansson would be playing Dante “Tex” Gill in a biopic about the trans man’s life. The casting of a cis woman as a trans man is bad enough (and it is very, very bad), but making it even worse is the fact that Johansson has waded into the waters of casting appropriation before, with her starring role in Ghost in the Shell. She was heavily criticized for accepting that role, as was the movie’s director, Rupert Sanders, though to a much lesser degree. (Side note: Sanders is the director whose affair with Kristen Stewart caused her to be branded a “homewrecker” by assholes across the internet. What is it about Sanders that causes him to be reputation Teflon, with outrage sliding right off of him and landing fully on the woman next to him?)

Anyway, neither Sanders nor Johansson seemed to care about the accusations of appropriation, and they’re re-teaming for this new movie, Rub & Tug. When given an opportunity to comment, Johansson offered a truly terrible response to Bustle, saying via a rep, “Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.”

The internet went into full #ScarlettJohanssonIsOverParty mode, and responded the only way it knows how: with memes and gifs and general mockery.

In addition to the mockery, a lot of people–including a number of trans actors–were doing their best to educate Johansson and all of her stans out there claiming this isn’t actually a problem because she’s an actor and this is just acting. But that ignorant approach ignores the fact that the Hollywood playing field is far from level. Trans actors aren’t given the opportunity to play cis characters, but cis actors not only get to play cis characters, but transgender ones as well. And because they sometimes win awards for doing so, it’s thought of as being not just a fine choice for a cis actor, but a prestigious career move.

On top of that, casting a cis woman to play a trans man perpetuates the ignorant idea that trans men are really still women at their core. The same perception applies to trans women when actors like Jared Leto play them. It sends the message that trans women are just men playing dress-up. And considering the overwhelming majority of cis Americans say they don’t know a single transgender person, their perception of trans people is heavily, if not exclusively, shaped by these images in media.

Scarlett Johansson, are you listening?

(image: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.