By Karen Wang
Since learning that she believes that playing a person of color or a transgender person is comparable to playing a tree, one question has been weighing heavily on my mind: why hasn’t anyone cast Scarlett Johansson as a tree yet?
I truly believe we have been robbed of an amazing performance, one where ScarJo would be challenged outside of her comfort zone, where instead of being an emotionless, vaguely irritated depiction of a human, she would be an emotionless, vaguely irritated depiction of a tree.
It’s undeniable that ScarJo is incredibly suited for this role. Her background as a conventionally attractive white woman in Hollywood has given her a profoundly grounded and nuanced perspective of the world, where she has watched as the industry transitioned from having no characters of color to having characters of color played by white actors.
These characters of color have typically been heavily rooted in stereotypes and racist caricature, which only adds to the value of her views! In fact, as an Asian woman, I found myself incredibly moved and touched by her performance of an Asian woman in Ghost in the Shell. It really taught me that in order to have an authentic portrayal of an Asian woman in western film, actors must first learn to become an annoying, emotionless white woman so they can then be better at playing an Asian woman. It’s just common sense!
In a world where narrowly-tailored diversity is being embraced in order to cater to a white audience that increasingly “feels bad for stuff,” we need more thin white women like ScarJo to show everyone what diversity in Hollywood is really about!
Diversity in Hollywood means more characters of color whose only purpose is to be saved by the white main character. It means more revolutionary depictions of same-sex romance whose actors and directors are all straight and whose audience feel validated in their fetishization of same-sex relationships. It means more movies where the suffering and deaths of minority characters are exploited for the pleasure of a cisgender, heterosexual, white audience.
It means more movies where trans people are played by cis actors, where gay characters are played by straight actors, where characters of color are played by white actors wearing prosthetics and special effects makeup. I can’t help but think that’s what real representation is all about.
What ScarJo has taught me is that thin, cisgender, heterosexual white women are so versatile! In addition to playing white characters, they can also play Asian characters, transgender characters, and even, as I’ve repeatedly alluded to, a literal tree!
So I say yes to ScarJo the tree and yes to ScarJo the transgender man and yes to ScarJo the Asian woman! It’s not as though actual trees, transgender people, or people of color could ever hold a candle to ScarJo’s acting prowess. Could a tree, a transgender person, or a person of color ever hope to amass half of ScarJo’s superior acting ability, where all of her characters display the same two expressions of irritation and apathy for hours on end?
The answer is no! Just like the LGBTQ+ community and people of color, there are no tree actors who can even be considered in the same acting realm as ScarJo. Can you name a tree actor who isn’t a D-List celebrity? I sure can’t, and that’s why ScarJo is doing their job for them!
In conclusion, it’s time for Hollywood to wake up and see the light: we need ScarJo as a tree just as much as we needed all of those other white actors playing characters of color and all of those cisgender actors playing transgender characters. ScarJo the Sequoia needs to happen! And it is my hope that this groundbreaking role will give ScarJo an opportunity she has never quite been able to take advantage of before: being silent.
Image courtesy of Fox News