First, she offended with her roll in Ghost in the Shell. Now, Scarlett Johansson is ticking off the trans community with her casting in Rupert Sanders’ latest crime biopic, Rub & Tug. Only a year after stepping into the role of a character who was primarily Asian in Sanders’ Ghost in the Shell, Johansson is slated to play Dante “Tex” Gill, a transgender man who ran massage parlors that hid a prostitution ring in the 1970s.
The problem people have isn’t that Johansson is standing in as a man. It’s that Gill was transgender and many people feel that the actress who plays Black Widow is taking the role of a transgender actor.
Valerie Vza Complex hit the nail on the head with her reaction to the casting.
First the Japanese, and now Scarlett Johansson is taking on the trans community with her new film Rub and Tug. I can't wait until her Rosa Parks film comes out. https://t.co/nbmoMkoNlN
— Valerie Vza Complex (@ValerieComplex) July 3, 2018
Once Johansson started to receive criticism for taking the roll, she responded in a way that exacerbated the issue. She pointed fingers at other actors who have portrayed transgender people in films.
Johansson’s representative released a statement and confirmed that it came from the actress:
Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.
On playing a trans man in her new film, Scarlett Johansson sounds dumb as hell pic.twitter.com/5ycags4iR8
— Ira (@ira) July 4, 2018
The internet did not take kindly to her response, which avoided the issue and turned into a “What about…” moment.
scarlett johansson selecting her next acting role pic.twitter.com/wT0hY3seYs
— COL•IN (@colinshram) July 4, 2018
She does have the occasional supporter, but it’s a rarity in the sea of criticism that’s flowing her way.
I. HATE. SENSITIVE. TWITTER.
1. It's not Scarlett Johansson's fault Hollywood won't cast trans people. It's unfortunate, but not HER fault.
2. Why the hell shouldn't she play a trans role? She's ACTING. Literally her profession. Goodness gracious get over it y'all
— CarlosRebo (@cdrebollar) July 4, 2018
Dear SJWs. #ScarlettJohansson is an ACTOR. Like any ACTOR, they are cast because they best fit the director's vision. There is no law that says only trans can portray a trans person in a film. Now fuck off with your insufferable moral grandstanding.
— Valerie (@Val_Floof) July 4, 2018
Scarlett Johansson in her new role pic.twitter.com/pp4OqiLs18
— Jamal The Weeknd (@reggiegotlag) July 4, 2018
*Casting for a black gay trans man*
Scarlett Johansson: pic.twitter.com/J4HsUKy2iB
— Brazzy (@boybrazzy) July 4, 2018
CNN chimed in with a piece that not only spoke on the issue of cisgender actors playing trans people, but also included a list of transgender people that could have been cast, such as Chaz Bono, Ellie Desautels, Ian Harvie, and Emmett Jack Lundberg.
Scarlett Johansson is once again at the center of a Hollywood casting controversy over the film “Rub & Tug,” in which she will play a transgender man.
— CNN (@CNN) July 4, 2018
The likelihood that this controversy will push Johansson out of the role or have any effect on her future roles is highly unlikely, but the backlash probably won’t die down anytime soon.
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 #RupertSanders @NewRegency #ScarlettJohansson https://t.co/RkrW8MeGcG
— Jamie Clayton (@MsJamieClayton) July 4, 2018
At the end of the day, being an ally really means being willing to make a sacrifice in the name of righting wrongs or correcting a history of unfairness. When it’s time to make that sacrifice, people like Scarlett Johansson are just showing the world they’re not really about it.
— KB (@KaraRBrown) July 5, 2018
There is humor to be found in some responses, specifically those lining up future roles for the actress.
Can't believe they've cast Scarlett Johansson as the lead in the new Shaft reboot.
— Daniel Hardcastle (@DanNerdCubed) July 5, 2018
Scarlett Johansson has just announced she will play Therese Patricia Okoumou in a biopic. pic.twitter.com/64q6y91srG
— Steven Santos (@stevensantos) July 5, 2018
Scarlett Johansson signs on to play 13th century samurai in hospital drama biopic of Jean-Michel Basquiat.
— Casting ScarJo (@scarjocasting) July 5, 2018