Episode 148: Ghost in the Shell (2017)

Just in case you’re feeling too comfortable, we’re hitting you with another episode of “Whitewashing,” the series where two white guys talk about replacing non-white characters with white actors. Sure, we’re qualified for that. But who’s going to stop us? (checks behind door) Oh good, nobody’s here to stop us.
So anyway, this week we’re discussing an uncomfortably recent film, the 2017 live-action adaptation of an iconic anime from 1995, “Ghost in the Shell.” Personally, I like my ghosts deep fried with tartar sauce but if you’re the sort who likes them fresh in the shell, I say go for it! Or am I confusing ghosts with oysters? Happens so often . . . I can’t be the only one who makes this mistake . . . No, the classic anime, which inspired such films as the Matrix and many, many others, deals with the complex and fascinating concept of the blurring of the line between human beings and machines. This live-action version? Well, tune in and see. When it was announced that distinctly non-Asian actor Scarlett Johannsson was going to play the lead role, a character who was originally Japanese, there was quite a backlash. Many people were upset. Join us and learn exactly who was upset . . . and more interestingly, who was NOT upset. You may be surprised; I can tell you right now that I certainly was. Give a listen and enjoy our surprised-ness!

Poll question: What was a movie you saw that had a “big twist” that you totally saw coming, or conversely, what is a movie with a “big twist” that totally worked on you?

George Floyd Memorial Fund:  https://www.gofundme.com/f/georgefloyd

ACLU: https://www.aclu.org/

Black Lives Matter: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/ms_blm_homepage_2019

Southern Poverty Law Center: https://donate.splcenter.org/

2 thoughts on “Episode 148: Ghost in the Shell (2017)”

  1. I had heard the casting wasn’t so controversial in Japan and it might have been jumping the gun for so many )mostly white) people to just assume it would be but you really had a good layered discussion about it all. It’s still white washing, just from how the handled the subject. I think the whitewashing comes from ignoring all the cultural points the original story made, as you pointed out, but also from they never would have made this without a known, white star for marketing reasons claiming “no one would go see it” which is why it took so long to get a black led super hero movie. To me that is just an excuse to go with the status quo and systemic racism almost by definition. So congratulations on having a podcast about this that went far beyond discomfort with what is on screen but allowing yourselves to question what our roles are viewers are when interpreting these sort of films.

    1. Thank you, Vince! It was an uncomfortable moment for us in the middle of the show, but I think that’s a good thing. We white folk have been comfortable for too long. The discussion is the important part, and letting anyone with a thought-out response, especially if they’re from the group concerned is even more important. Sad thing was, on top of the weird cultural smooth-over, it was a bad movie. Thanks for listening and commenting! Soon, you’ll have enough BumpyBux to paper your house!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *