Actress Scarlett Johansson is in hot water once again for her recent choice to play massage parlor owner Dante “Tex” Gill in the upcoming mob drama “Rub & Tug.” The real-life Gill was born as Lois Jean Gill, but identified as a man — which is a detail in the role that has sparked backlash.
April Reign, who is known for the #OscarsSoWhite campaign, tweeted about the news: “Scarlett Johansson received considerable backlash for Ghost in the Shell, when she played a whitewashed Asian character. The movie tanked. Undeterred, she has teamed up WITH THE SAME DIRECTOR to play a trans male character in ‘Rub & Tug.’”
Reign’s tweet also includes a statement from Johansson via her representative that was featured on Bustle which addressed the backlash — in her own special way. She said: “Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.”
Deadline broke the news that Johansson would be re-teaming with director Rupert Sanders for “Rub & Tug.” The two previously worked together on the adaptation of “Ghost in the Shell,” another movie which was the center of controversy as many saw Johansson’s role as the film’s version of the film’s lead Major Motoko Kusanagi as a form of whitewashing of a character that is seen as Asian. In the case of “Rub & Tug,” she is being called out for “transface,” as one person on Twitter commented. Another said this is a case of “ciswashing.”
People are not being shy about calling out Johansson for playing a trans man, since this can be considered her second offense when it comes to appropriating — in this case, it’s not cultural, it’s gender identity.