The Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA) blasted Scarlett Johansson’s casting in the film “Ghost in the Shell” prior to the movie’s opening weekend.


In a recent statement released on Friday, the organization condemned movie-runner’s choice to “whitewash” Motoku Kusanagi, Johansson’s character, who originally appeared on a Japanese manga with the same exact name.

The group was also critical of Johansson’s interview on the show “Good Morning America,” where she stated that she “would never attempt to play a person of a different race, obviously.” Later MANAA responded by saying “she was lying.”

Additionally, they also denounced the film’s casting of the actor Michael Pitt as the character Kuze, which MANAA says “is revealed to have originally been named Hideo, meaning he too was Japanese.”

“Apparently, in Hollywood, Japanese people can’t play Japanese people anymore,” MANAA President Robert Chan said.

“There’s no reason why either Motoku or Hideo could not have been portrayed by Japanese or Asian actors instead of Scarlett Johansson and Michael Pitt. We don’t even get to see what they looked like in their original human identities — a further white-wash.”

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A year prior, MANAA vocalized that they opposed the casting choice of actress Tilda Swinton in the film “Doctor Strange.” For the movie, Swinton took on the role of “The Ancient One,” a character in the comic book that was originally portrayed to be a male of Tibetan descent.

“Hollywood continues to make the same excuses, that there aren’t big enough Asian/Asian American names to open a blockbuster film,” said MANAA’s Founding President, Guy Aoki. “Yet it has not developed a farm system where such actors get even third billing in most pictures. Without a conscientious effort, how will anyone ever break through and become familiar enough with audiences so producers will confidently allow them to topline a film?  When will we ever break that glass ceiling?”