The Ghost in the Shell producer Ari Arad has acknowledged that some “people online” are upset that Scarlett Johansson is playing a protagonist who was originally Asian, but that the fans he’s friends with were okay with it so it probably won’t matter.
“Everyone I know personally who is a fan thought it was awesome,” Arad said.
After the casting announcement went out for Ghost in the Shell, several fans spoke out against whitewashing the protagonist, preferring to see an Asian actress take on the role of Motoko Kusanagi. And even though she’s simply called “The Major” now, Johansson’s character looks to be at least part Japanese, which goes against producer Steven Paul’s assertion that the movie’s taking on more of an “international approach” in regards to her casting.
In a recent interview, Arad addressed the controversy, saying that if people don’t like the film, casting will only be part of the reason at best. But on top of that, when defending the choice, he consulted his base of fans, who apparently have all said they’re okay with the film whitewashing the character. And for the most part, they sound like his circle of friends.
“Some fans I talk to think it’s great,” Arad said. “Everyone I know personally who is a fan thought it was awesome, and there’s [sic] people online who didn’t think it was great.”
Note how he didn’t call the online critics fans.
That’s a relatively common tactic used to dismiss concerns or criticism about aspects of your work when they’re not well received, saying that the people who don’t like it aren’t really part of the club. DC director Zack Snyder has used it when it comes to reception of his more critically panned movies, like Dawn of Justice, saying he’s making the movies “for the fans.” The only problem is, when you put fandom outside of criticism, you create a bubble that prevents legitimate voices from helping your work grow. Plus, consulting your friends, who might be in the same socio-economic bracket as you, isn’t the best way to gauge how well you’re doing.
“The internet is frequently sort of a one-way thing right now. I am not a big social media guy so I don’t know. We’ll see, we really just hope to win them over because they like the movie,” Arad said.
Well, you might want to start by not insulting them.