'Ghost In The Shell' Controversy: Did Producers Test Visual Effects To Make Scarlett Johansson Appear Asian?

Jennifer Ricketts

Ghost in the Shell won't be in theaters until 2017 but is already stirring up plenty of controversy. Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks released the first photo of actress Scarlett Johansson in character as Major Motoko Kusanagi from the live-action adaptation of Masamune Shirow's manga series, and the photo excited some fans while upsetting others.

Ghost in the Shell has faced backlash over the casting of Danish-Polish actress Johansson in the lead role of Major Kusanagi, a cyborg policewoman, since the casting news was announced in late 2015. The news sparked outrage over the latest example of a practice in Hollywood known as "whitewashing," which is when white actors are cast in non-white roles.

— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) April 15, 2016

Ghost in the Shell fans were against casting Johansson enough to start a petition for her role to be recast; however, since production on Ghost in the Shell has already begun in New Zealand, the petition seems unlikely to undo what many see as a poor choice in casting.

The cast of Ghost in the Shell is predominantly Asian, which begs the question of why a white actress was chosen to play the film's lead, however talented the actress.

Chinese-American actress and star of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Ming-Na Wen tweeted she doesn't have a problem with Johansson herself but does take issue with the casting of the white actress in Ghost in the Shell.

— Ming-Na Wen (@MingNa) April 14, 2016

While Paramount Pictures acknowledge tests were performed, they vehemently deny that the tests were used on Johansson, according to a spokesperson for Paramount.

"A test was done related to a specific scene for a background actor which was ultimately discarded. Absolutely no visual effects tests were conducted on Scarlett's character and we have no future plans to do so."

— Mimi Chen (@MImi_TheSound) April 15, 2016

Ghost in the Shell is slated for release in theaters on March 31, 2017.

What do you think of the Ghost in the Shell controversy?

[Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images]