Scarlett Johansson clarifies political correctness casting controversy

Johansson was widely mocked for these statements on social media over the weekend.

July 16, 2019 05:12
2 minute read.
SodaStream pitchwoman Scarlett Johansson

SodaStream pitchwoman Scarlett Johansson. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Scarlett Johansson, an actress of Jewish/Danish descent, spoke out to clarify comments she made recently over political correctness in casting.

In a statement to Variety on Sunday, Johansson said that an interview she recently gave to the arts and culture publication As If was “edited for click bait and is widely taken out of context.”

Johansson recently dropped out of the upcoming film Rub & Tug, in which she was set to play a trans gangster, in the face of widespread criticism from the LGBTQ community that a trans actor was not cast in the role. And after the British newspaper The Daily Mail released excerpts from the As If interview on Saturday in which she discussed political correctness, Johansson found herself facing a new round of fire from social-justice warriors.

What set them off this time was this quote: “You know, as an actor I should be allowed to play any person, or any tree, or any animal because that is my job and the requirements of my job. I feel like [political correctness] is a trend in my business, and it needs to happen for various social reasons. Yet there are times it does get uncomfortable when it affects the art because I feel art should be free of restrictions.”

Johansson was widely mocked on social media over the weekend for her statements.

“Why Compare trans people and poc to trees and animals...” tweeted Indya Moore, star of the television series Pose, who identifies as transgender and non-binary.

One Twitter user posted a photo of herself next to a tree and wrote: “OMG I can’t believe I just met Scarlett Johansson!! What an honor!!!”

Johansson has previously faced criticism for the political sin of “cultural appropriation” regarding her role in Ghost in the Shell, a live-action version of a Japanese anime, which many thought should have gone to a Japanese actress.

In the Variety statement, she said, “I personally feel that, in an ideal world, any actor should be able to play anybody and art, in all forms, should be immune to political correctness. That is the point I was making, albeit didn’t come across that way.

“I recognize that in reality, there is a widespread discrepancy amongst my industry that favors Caucasian, cis gendered actors, and that not every actor has been given the same opportunities that I have been privileged to. I continue to support, and always have, diversity in every industry, and will continue to fight for projects where everyone is included.”

The Avengers: Endgame star, who recently announced her engagement to Saturday Night Live star Colin Jost, has been outspoken about politics in the past.

In 2014, when she was named “global brand ambassador” for SodaStream, an Israeli company that makes carbonated beverage machines for home use and had a plant on the West Bank, she was the subject of widespread criticism from the BDS movement and similar groups.

The humanitarian organization Oxfam, for which she had been a “global ambassador,” said it opposed SodaStream for having a factory on the West Bank. Johansson stepped down from her post at Oxfam, saying in a statement to the Huffington Post: “I remain a supporter of economic cooperation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine. SodaStream is a company that is not only committed to the environment but to building a bridge to peace between Israel and Palestine, supporting neighbors working alongside each other, receiving equal pay, equal benefits and equal rights.”

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