Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Ghost In The Shell: A Major Motoko Kusanaki Controversy (Part V)

Stop! Stop! Stop! I can't take it anymore. It's not your film! Get your own funding and make your own damn movie with Asian actors! Stop it already people!

Pilou Asbaek (Lucy, Game Of Thrones) was cast as Batou, Major Matoko Kusanagi's right hand man, for Dreamworks' Ghost In The Shell. He's European. He's not American. He's not Asian and gosh darn it he's white. Get over it!

Steve Wright at SciFiNow had this to say, "While it is a decent bit of casting---we're sure Asbaek will be great---it does however represent the second case of a white actor being cast in the film based on such a classic Japanese story." Racism will never die.

What these writers with agendas basically say is: Well, he's talented. He'll be great, but he's white. What!

Don't give me Ghost In The Shell is a Japanese film. Batou is a hulking, strapping white fellow with blonde/white hair in the Oshii animated classic.

Days later when it was reported Sam Riley (Maleficent) would be set to play The Laughing Man, a faceless cyber enemy, which never came to pass by the way, SciFiNow concluded its reporting with "yet to see any non-white actors cast. Hmm." Laughable alright!

Ultimately, it turned out Michael Pitt (Hannibal) was cast to play The Laughing Man. Unfortunately Pitt is white too! Damn these white people! The fact he is an excellent performer is actually meaningless when it comes to perceived racial requirements.

In a refreshing turn Otaku USA, via Deadline, via Crunchyroll, reported the casting news sans racial commentary. Imagine a world where journalists reported news without injecting their own racial biases? Now that would be quality journalism and a marked move forward rather than the backward of recent years.

Can we stop with racism? I don't think so. Too many people turn to it to power an argument. Can DreamWorks cast and make its film to be judged on its own merits? Media bias and betrayal of news reporting with an agenda has been a harmful development in the 21st Century.

Is Ghost In The Shell, given Asbaek and Johansson's involvement together previously in Lucy, going to be nothing more than Lucy reimagined? Maybe. Or will we get something much more (with white people)? Maybe.

The racial trends are troubling. And reassurance by the film's producer, Steven Paul, on July 3rd 2016, that the film is shooting for an "international" flavor are hardly enough. Steven don't you know International and Asian are hardly the same thing. Gosh already. So yes, cries of whitewashing continue. To offer an example: "And how exactly is this whole global approach suppose to change anything? The main character is still white, you're still whitewashing. This doesn't change anything. This movie is still going to be a clusterfuck and I am going to boycot it." Now that's a perfectly rational approach to a film you haven't seen. Oh and by the way, Boycott is with two "t"s.

And in case you didn't know, and you may not, because it was not widely reported or whined about, but Tokyo born "Beat" Takeshi Kitano (Outrage) was cast as Daisuke Aramaki. He's Asian! Where is the outrage there? That's right there wasn't any. But where is the celebration? Truthfully it doesn't matter. And he'll be great. He'll be Asian and we don't need to hear about race on these films anymore. It's not about the right race, but the right casting. It's just just another disturbing trend.

Meanwhile, Mamoru Oshii himself has visited the film set of Ghost In The Shell either with a full endorsement, approval or to ensure monies are allocated to the correct accounts. Composer Kenji Kawai was in tow as well. Excitement is certainly building with the Japanese and others despite cries of whitewashing. Apparently Oshii and Kawai didn't get the memo or aren't the least bit offended themselves.

But I mean it, you don't like something, go make your own movie. I see fan films all the time and they are excellent.

Ishiro Honda made Gojira in 1954. Honda is dead. Adaptations on that character and Honda's initial ideas have flourished over decades by different directors and different countries. Some good. Some bad. You always have the originals. You always have some of the greats alongside some of the stinkers, but Godzilla endures.

Would it be too much to ask for the allowance of artistic interpretations on a property like Ghost In The Shell? Would that original property not survive and endure anyway? Of course it could and it will.


Roman J. Martel said...

Yeah, I don't get why the whining in still going on. The studio made their decisions, they are in production - it is a done deal folks. Can't we just wait and see if the movie is any good before we declare it a travesty.

Was a disappointed we didn't get an asian actress as Kusanagi? Yes. Did I understand why they went with Johansson? Absolutely. Butts in the seats. End of story. She's a fine actress and I'm sure she'll do a fine job.

As you pointed out, different interpretations mean different approaches. I admit I was more upset about the casting earlier on. But you put things in perspective a bit.

I won't say I'm super excited about the film. I worry about what they will end up doing to the intelligent thought provoking writing of the manga and films. But if it ends up being an entertaining sci fi romp, then I suppose that is good too. It is a trend I see in big budget Hollywood productions of late: reduce the thinking and put in more explosions and destruction.

But this whole whining over casting is just pointless and stupid. I just hope it doesn't taint the film too much. I'm seeing the same thing happening with this Ghostbuster remake. People are already sick of hearing about it before the film is even out.

Sci-Fi Fanatic said...


I thoroughly enjoyed your remarks here. I have read where you stand but I love that you have such a reasonable take on this. You and I are on the same page in giving this film a chance.

I could be very disappointed in the final product, but that will have little to do with where I stand on the process of making a film and believing in artists and studios and creators in having the right to give it a shot.

A Japanese film with a wonderful Japanese actress would be lovely. The Japanese make many remarkable science fiction films, but you won't see those films, rarely, unless, like me, you seek them out. Attack On Titan case in point. Space Battleship Yamato another.

But American/ Hollywood films go big or go home and obviously they are looking for a big hit here. We can only hope the film still captures the essence and spirit of Ghost In The Shell even if it is different. We'll find out.

And I understand you or anyone being cautious about going into the film or getting high hopes that it will come close to yours, and my, wonderful memories of Oshii's classic. Don't expect that to happen. If it comes close we'll all be pleased.

I completely concur with you in my expectations. If this film is merely an action film with a tendency toward superhero trappings and little of the existential elements that worked so well with GITS (1995) or a film that was highly influential on Oshii like Blade Runner (1982) than you and I both will walk away feeling it nothing more than a mere diversion that will likely not have the lasting appeal of the original film.

There are always those that want to tear down films before they happen and that's truly disappointing. Hey, I have little to no interest in Star Trek Beyond and I love the original series, but I'm sure it will please many people and maybe even surprise.

But this whitewashing garbage is disgusting. It's another name for an ugly term.

Francisco Gonzalez said...

I don't get this thing about bashing movies and trying to destroy them before they are even out. Same with Ghostbusters and Gods of Egypt, and for all I know they will be great. I don't like passing judgement on anything before I see it, unless its fairly obvious its a stinker and even then I give them the benefit of the doubt. I don't care about skin color, just if its a good movie or not.

Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

You are one of the most fair guys I know. You have always been such a decent gent.
I also feel you give films the benefit of the doubt much more than other critics might. You are inherently fair.

I will give you two additional films you wrote about and were extremely fair to them when others were not.
Fantastic Four and Batman Vs Superman come to mind. A DC and a Marvel film. You
were awfully fair to them and I have yet to see them. I have an internal dislike for comic book films but I do want to see DAWN OF JUSTICE.

Thanks for your thoughts sir. You remind others they should refrain from being overly reactionary of which too many writers, bloggers, twitterers and others are today. cheers.