People are up in arms about this new Ghost in the Shell movie–live action this time–and starring such actors as can be generally acquired by the ancient fucking reptiles that inhabit the fissile wastes of the West Coast. Never mind that the remaining corpus of material has been either illustration or animation, working with the advantages and disadvantages therein; never mind that the rights to produce the movie were not by any means stolen from its legal possessor; what they’re mad most about is that the starring actress–and a good portion of the rest of the cast–are white and that therefore this film represents some sort of perverted whitewashing of the superiority of the yellow race. But I couldn’t care less about that. Never mind that the material for the Ghost in the Shell franchise is borrowed rather liberally from the science fiction authors of the Western World; never mind neither that this is generally how creative inspiration works; it doesn’t fucking matter. If the creator of the licensed title believes that he can make a better product that will sell more tickets by using a certain cast, you’re damn right he will.
Truth is, I’m up in arms as well, but it’s for altogether different reasons. I’ve actually long been a fan of the Ghost in the Shell franchise, among the few Japanese media besides Kurosawa that I can tolerate. And I’ve seen some very faithful interpretations of Major Kusanagi’s character. She’s tough, generally self-assured, and she can seem menacing without seeming a monster. She’s a military brat of an older tradition, and it’s something I can appreciate. And frankly, I don’t think Johansson is a decent actress in general; I certainly don’t think she can faithfully render the major’s character. She does certainly have the vacant stare that might be possessed by a full-body prosthetic, but I frankly think that it’s a failing not of non-verbal communication but the cry of the long atrophy of that bit of gray matter affixed to her brain stem.
This might seem mean to me in retrospect, but then I’d remember her terrible interpretation of the Russian language.