Over the past few weeks, Scarlett Johansson has been slammed by the LGBTQIA+ community for accepting the role of a transman in Rupert Sander’s Rub & Tug. And now the actress has made the decision to quit playing Dante Tex Gill’s character, and to talk about the controversy created in the wake of her decision. This is a big step for Hollywood and a chance for the LGBTQIA+ community to be heard loud and clear on the issue of minority representation in Hollywood.
Twitter blew up the interweb after Johansson announced her decision to leave the role from ‘Rub and Tug,’ which caused a huge debacle in the LGBTQIA+ community and raised many questions about acting quality in the film industry. Scarlett made the statement:
In light of recent ethical questions raised surrounding my casting as Dante Tex Gill, I have decided to respectfully withdraw my participation in the project…
Actresses Trace Lysette and Jamie Clayton both questioned Johanson about her decision to take the role. Clayton tweeting directly about her feelings towards the Rub & Tug‘s cast:
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) 4 July 2018
She summed it up well: why is it that trans actors only are considered for trans roles while cisgender actors get the monopoly of roles?
The general mood on the issue has shifted from outrage to focussing on the helpful conversation the tone-deaf gaffe has sparked. Johansson spoke to Out Magazine, expressing her thoughts on the topic and feelings about the choice she made:
“Our cultural understanding of transgender people continues to advance, and I’ve learned a lot from the community since making my first statement about my casting and realise it was insensitive…
…while I would have loved the opportunity to bring Dante’s story and transition to life, I understand why many feel he should be played by a transgender person, and I am thankful that this casting debate, albeit controversial, has sparked a larger conversation about diversity and representation in film,”
Despite Clayton’s strong-worded tweet, the actress made a positive statement following Johannson’s move to ditch the role:
Cheers to learning & growing! I hope you’re still producing the film Scarlett. What an incredible opportunity to put your words into action even further! YAS! Let’s get lunch and talk! #ScarlettJohansson https://t.co/rrLd6mDKDe
— Jamie Clayton (@MsJamieClayton) 13 July 2018
It didn’t end there, a stream of positive responses followed, turning what was once the trigger of controversy into a positive twist of opportunity. Civil Rights Activist Ashlee Marie Preston put an encouraging tweet towards the actress:
Thank you Scarlett Johansson for pulling out of “Rub and Tug”…
Now the real work begins…??✨?
This has been a long time coming Hollywood. But the Trans community is ready if you are…?
— Ashlee Marie Preston (@AshleeMPreston) 13 July 2018
The bright light at the end of the tunnel passed on outside of the Twitter realm and shined upon GLAAD (The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) whose President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said:
Scarlett Johansson’s announcement, together with the transgender voices who spoke out about this film, are game changers for the future of transgender images in Hollywood,
It looks like the LGBTQIA+ community will finally get the Hollywood spotlight it strongly deserves. It’s exciting to think we are going to see a lot more equality represented on the silver screen, and the talent that will, no doubt, emerge from such stories.
Read our full Johanson X Rub & Tug story here.
What do you make of Johanson’s decision? Let us know in the comments below!