01 Jul 2016 4:00 PM +00:00 UTC

Ghost in the Shell Producer Defends 'Whitewashed' Casting of Scarlett Johansson

Ever since Scarlett Johansson was cast to play Motoko Kusunagi or "Major" in Paramount and Dreamworks' live-action adaptation of Ghost in the Shell, the film has received a backlash and accusations of whitewashing her lead role. Even Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. star Ming Na-Wen spoke out against the casting. There was even a report about the studio conducting CGI tests to make white actors look Asian.

On Wednesday, one of the film's producers, Steven Paul, spoke with Buzzfeed about how the fans are going to love the film, bringing up the franchise's diverse Cyberpunk culture. While some fans would argue that Ghost in the Shell is inherently Japanese story, Paul doesn't see it that way:

"I think everybody is going to end up being really happy with it," he said. "They're going to be very, very happy with it when they see what we've actually done with it, and I don't think anybody's going to be disappointed."
"I don't think it was just a Japanese story. Ghost in the Shell was a very international story, and it wasn't just focused on Japanese; it was supposed to be an entire world," he said. "That's why I say the international approach is, I think, the right approach to it."
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"There [are] all sorts of people and nationalities in the world in Ghost in the Shell. We're utilizing people from all over the world. … There's Japanese in it. There's Chinese in it. There's English in it. There's Americans in it."

In the film, she's understandably referred to as "Major". It would be strange to call a white actress "Motoko", and although I could see some resemblance to ScarJo's looks with the character, I would rather see the role played by an Asian actress like Rinko Kikuchi or Ming-Na Wen. While a lot of fans are mad about the casting decision, the Japanese audience generally seems to be open to the decision. The Japaese publisher of the Ghost in the Shell manga approved the casting, and most fans who were asked in the video seem to have no problem with it.

Ghost in the Shell is set to release in theaters on March 31, 2017.

Read: 8 Reasons Ghost in the Shell Should Not Be Whitewashed