Hey, Scar Jo look this way Image: Twitter
Scarlett Johansson might not think cis-washing is a big deal, but it is costing her big time. The Avengers star, who recently signed up to play a transgender gangster named Jean Marie Gill in Rub & Tug, is receiving backlash from artistes across the world.
Casting Scarlett, a cisgender person (an individual whose gender identity corresponds with the sex they were assigned to at birth), in the role of a trans character doesn't just do away with representation, but also takes away roles from trans artistes in an industry that already does not have enough scripts for them.
And people have had enough. A few trans actors came together to do an audition sketch where they read for some of Scarlett's famous roles, including her characters from Avengers, He's Just Not That Into You and Her.
Actors Justin Chow, Scott Turner Schofield, D'Lo and Rocco Kayiatos read for Scarlett's famous roles, which were obviously written keeping a cisgender woman in mind.
The sketch progresses like a regular audition session where actors just read out their scripts and starts with Justin Chow reading for the role of Charlotte from 2001’s Ghost World.
At the end of the audition, Scott Schofield is offered the role of Her, the Oscar-winning movie, where Scarlett voiced the role of an artificial operating system.
Schofield, of course, refuses the role, bringing home the point that since he is not a cisgender woman and has never lived through the experience, he wouldn't be able to bring any veracity to the role.
"I know there are people who have lived this experience who would bring a lot of authenticity to it and I feel a little weird taking that from them. Thank you so much for the opportunity, but no," he said.
Scarlett will be playing the role of Jean Marie Gill, who later became known as Dante 'Tex' Gill, and was the head of a massage parlour and prostitution operation in the '70s. Jean Marie wanted to be referred to as Mr Gill and had reportedly undergone the initial stages of sex change.
Jean Marie has never identified as a cisgender and has been referred to as a 'transmasculine' crime boss.
The casting of Scarlett in the role of a transgender has been referred to as 'cis-washing', and is terribly problematic, especially now, when there is so much being done to promote inclusivity in films.
Scarlett's response to the backlash was rather insensitive. When asked about the negative press surrounding her casting in Rub & Tug, she released a statement saying, "Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman's reps for comment."
Tambor, Leto and Huffman are all cisgender people who have at some point played transgender roles in the last few years. In fact, Leto got an Oscar for playing a trans woman with HIV in the 2013 film Dallas Buyers Club.
Trans actors such as Laverne Cox, Trace Lysette and Jamie Clayton have all spoken out about casting a cis person in the trans role, which takes away opportunities from transgender artistes.
This is not the first time Scarlett has been criticised for overlooking the need for representation. Her 2017 sci-fi film Ghost in the Shell received huge backlash for whitewashing the role of the cybernetic human protagonist, Motoko Kusanagi, who was originally an Asian character in the manga series, which the film is based on.
The Internet is, of course, not in the mood to forgive Scarlett anytime soon.