There has been a lot of anger spewed around on the grounds of Scarlett Johnson playing Major Motoko Kusanagi(A fictional Japanese Character) in the new Ghost in the Shell film, due for release sometime next year. My interest here is not to defend the producers choice in casting, but to examine it in a different mindset.
First, let’s address the issue regarding Asians being under-represented in the media. As of the 2010 U.S census, Asians represent 4.8% of the U.S populace. The term ‘Asian’ doesn’t do well to convey the diversity of this population, that adheres many different religions, speak many different languages, are culturally quite diverse, as well as being quite phenotypically different from each other. The largest ethnicities counted for among ‘Asians’ are Chinese, Indians, Filipinos, Koreans, and Japanese. Each group standing alone would barely make up 1% of the U.S populace. Why do I bring this to bare is because, when arguing that a group is underrepresented in something we need to understand what percentage that group is of the populace. Because Asians make up a relatively small minority of the United States it seems logical they would also make up a small percentage of who we see in the media.
The second point I would like to bare is that people argue why filmmakers would cast a Caucasian lead in a film based on a Japanese property. It is important to understand just because a film is based on works from another culture doesn’t automatically mean the film is going to be set in that setting. Keep in mind that this is an American adaptation of Japanese fictional story, so casting actors that fit the American standards(which according to us Census is still 60% white) isn’t that absurd. There are many instances when for example Japanese producers adapt American properties for their own market, casting Japanese actors in roles played by traditionally white actors, I think of the Japanese 1970s live-action Spider-Man TV show.
Finally, quite comically, is how the Japanese view this situation themselves. In an article by Kotaku, internet comments by Japanese fans seem to convey that Japanese themselves don’t see this a big deal. In fact, comments reflect how ironic it is that White people in the United States are bothered by this issue more so than are Japanese people. I have attached the link to this article here…http://kotaku.com/the-japanese-internet-reacts-to-scarlet-johansson-in-gh-1771544034