Last year, Scarlett Johansson dropped out of Rub & Tug after she rightfully faced backlash for trying to play a transgender man. Unfortunately, she wasn’t the first cisgender person to be cast in a transgender role, either — Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl and Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club, just to name a few. However, her response regarding the controversy (there are several of them) was basically a “f*ck you” to everyone who called for her to leave the role behind.
“Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment,” was her flippant response last year.
Now, she’s owning up to the fact that she “mishandled” that whole situation. (Though it wasn’t that long ago that she adamantly defended herself, believing that she should be “allowed to play any person, or any tree, or any animal.”) Talk about being hard-headed. In a new interview with Vanity Fair, ScarJo realized she messed up.
“In hindsight, I mishandled that situation. I was not sensitive, my initial reaction to it. I wasn’t totally aware of how the trans community felt about those three actors playing—and how they felt in general about cis actors playing—transgender people. I wasn’t aware of that conversation—I was uneducated. So I learned a lot through that process. I misjudged that… It was a hard time. It was like a whirlwind. I felt terribly about it. To feel like you’re kind of tone-deaf to something is not a good feeling.”
So she was aware she was being tone-deaf. Good. Enjoying Scarlett Johansson’s work is hard sometimes because she somehow always manages to put her foot in her mouth with flagrantly ignorant comments. She’s talented, that’s for sure, but she sees everything through a lens of white privilege not afforded to people of color and the LGBTQ community. Granted, the Hollywood machine is also responsible for upholding systemic racism, homophobia, whitewashing, etc.
Still, Johansson’s one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood and she should be holding the door of opportunity open for others, not acting petty and petulant because she can’t play whomever she wants. For now, she at least realized she was being insensitive, and that’s fine, whatever. But, considering the fact that she didn’t make a peep about the whitewashing controversy of Ghost in the Shell and, in the VERY same interview, continued her support of Woody Allen, I’m not sure that we’ve heard the last of her tone-deaf comments.
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