Why Scarlett Johansson Wanting to Play a Trans Man in ‘Rub & Tug’ Is Wrong
Scarlett Johansson (in what seems to be her mission to get some Oscar gold) is determined to play a trans man in her new film Rub & Tug. Of course, many people have spoken against it. But will she and Hollywood listen? Only time will tell.
The controversy began when Scarlett Johansson announced she would be playing Dante “Tex” Gill, a trans man, in a biopic called Rub & Tug. Considering what Johansson had to go through because of Ghost in the Shell, this came across as a bad decision to me regardless of the film having ‘Oscar-bait’ written all over it. She is even teaming up with Rupert Sanders for this project. He is the same guy she worked with on Ghost in the Shell. He is also the one who got involved in an affair with Kristen Stewart.
I am all for Johansson getting Oscar recognition. She has spent decades in the industry. But this is definitely not the way to go about it.
Johansson’s response to the outcry surrounding her casting was also very bad. She told Bustle, through her rep, anyone who has a problem with her taking the role can have their concerns “directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.”
I still can’t believe she approved such a response to be made public. I get what she’s trying to say. But pointing to other people making the same mistake doesn’t mean you are excused to do the same.
The entire debacle has allowed people to have some fun online.
when scarlett finally collects all the stolen minority roles she will succeed in wiping out half the diversity in hollywood pic.twitter.com/2c9eUHBiqC
— julia (@tchallavenger) July 4, 2018
Scarlett Johansson’s next roles:
• Selena Quintanilla Perez
• black drag queen throwing the first brick at stonewall
• Kim Jong-Un
• all the roles in black panther 2
• mysterious Japanese child on scene 3
• Laverne Cox
— luisa 🇧🇷🇨🇺 (@666bitchcraft) July 4, 2018
On a serious note, trans actresses took to Twitter to share their opinions and doing their part in making the world understand why Johansson going for this role is problematic.
Oh word?? So you can continue to play us but we can’t play y’all? Hollywood is so fucked… I wouldn’t be as upset if I was getting in the same rooms as Jennifer Lawrence and Scarlett for cis roles, but we know that’s not the case. A mess. https://t.co/s8gBlBI1Sw
— Trace Lysette (@tracelysette) July 4, 2018
Actors who are trans never even get to audition FOR ANYTHING OTHER THAN ROLES OF TRANS CHARACTERS. THATS THE REAL ISSUE. WE CANT EVEN GET IN THE ROOM. Cast actors WHO ARE TRANS as NON TRANS CHARACTERS. I DARE YOU #RupertSanders @NewRegency #ScarlettJohansson https://t.co/RkrW8MeGcG
— Jamie Clayton (@MsJamieClayton) July 4, 2018
Wen cis women play trans men you are reducing the existential experience of a trans man as playing dress up. cis people cannot tell trans stories- don’t have the range. If they did, they would empathize with the reality of how problematic, dismissive and fetishizing this is.
— IAM (@IndyaMoore) July 4, 2018
Now, I get there are people who think all of this shouldn’t matter and actors should be able to play any role regardless of sexuality and gender. However, the fact that trans talent isn’t allowed to even audition for cis roles is the problem. Until Hollywood changes the current system, your argument about all actors being allowed to play roles (especially minorities) doesn’t hold weight so please take a few seats.
If Johansson cares about getting award recognition and wants such a story to be told, she can work as a producer or even (it might still be problematic to some but not to the current degree) cast herself in the role of the girlfriend instead of the lead.
I hope the Scarlett Johansson controversy doesn’t keep the amazing story of Jean Marie Gill aka Dante “Tex” Gill from being told – if Johansson was smart, she’d find a new director, take the role of Tex’s girlfriend Cynthia, and give a trans actor a big break: pic.twitter.com/1eKnZxp89Q
— Grace Randolph (@GraceRandolph) July 4, 2018
Also, if Ryan Murphy can find an entire cast of very talented trans actors for his TV show Pose, Johansson and her team can find talent for such a project, too. The upcoming film could work as an amazing platform to give trans talent some amazing award recognition.
What do you think? Should Scarlett Johansson play a trans man in Rub & Tug? Let us know.
Farid has a Masters in Psychology and an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Arousing the Legacy, Missing in Somerville, The Game Master of Somerville, and The Escaped Murderer of Somerville. He gives us insight on comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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