Scarlett Johansson recently got into a controversy about a few comments she made to As If magazine. In it, she stated that she should be allowed to play any role she wants, even if that means portraying an animal or a tree. And while that's all well and good for Black Widow (whatever role she play next, she'll always be Black Widow to me!), I gotta say, those comments were completely tone-deaf. She also sounded like a stupid little spoiled brat in them, but hey, that’s just me!
The issue isn't about her as an actress, it's her privilege as a white person working in an industry that's always favored her race. It's also about representation, and in this day and age, all people deserve to see themselves reflected on screen. In fact, there have been films with ethnically correct casts that did extremely well. Here are some top-notch movies that come to mind.
Johansson didn't need to look further from her Marvel castmates to see just how important diverse representation in cinema is. "The Black Panther" is one of the best movies in Marvel's Cinematic Universe. In fact, it's the only one that's been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. And even if you were a white man from any Southern state in the US, you'd still admit that the movie was badass. What made it so popular and important, however, was the accuracy of the cast. These were African-American or African-descent actors portraying African characters in a big-budget film. That in of itself is already big!
Another recent film on this list is this year's live-action remake of Aladdin. Apart from the lead trio—Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, and Will Smith—all the other notable actors in this film have only been playing terrorists till now. Navid Negahban (the Sultan) and Numan Acar (Guard) built their careers playing villains, And while that may work for some, they didn't even have that much of a choice on that matter. Can you imagine how f*cking awful that must feel? To further play into the stereotypes that are against their own race? That's why seeing them in their glorious Middle Eastern prominent roles were uplifting in more ways than one!
This was a great film back in 2007 that was based on a true story. And what's even better is that they didn't sugarcoat it. They might have fluffed it up a little bit, but that's Hollywood for you. But in terms of the cast, it's one of the most diverse this industry has ever seen. To this day, it baffles me why this movie is so underrated. Almost everything about it was raw and real, so much so that at times, it felt like a documentary. And in a way, it was! The film showed the hardships minorities face in the US, and that's a story that needs to be told again and again in the movies!
Now, I know this is an all-white movie, but hear me out! Did you know that the big studio heads at the time wanted Robert Redford to play the part of Michael Corleone instead of Al Pacino? Yes! Those d*ckwads wanted to replace a legendary actor in what still is his most iconic role to date! And yes, even white people, who may have some features that aren't Caucasian, can get side rolled for the blonde, blue-eyed leading man! Pacino was perfect for the role. It was a Sicilian role and he, in fact, was Sicilian. So, fortunately, for Pacino and for the history of Cinema, their awful plans didn't push through!
The next time Johansson, or any other person for that matter, thinks any role should and can be played by anyone, especially white actors, they need to watch these films again! Such masterpieces wouldn’t have been possible if they were whitewashed!