Twitter users completely turned a “Ghost in the Shell” ad campaign on its head to make a majorly important point.
The film released a meme-maker with the intention of promoting the film. But instead, people across the interwebs brilliantly used it to generate snarky memes to call out the film for its casting of Scarlett Johansson in an Asian role. The actress plays Major Motoko Kusanagi ― or “The Major” ― in “Ghost in the Shell,” a film adaptation of a Japanese manga.
The “I Am Major” meme-maker asks users to complete the statement “I Am...” in a template, encouraging them to fill in the blank with what makes them “unique.” They’re also invited to upload their own photos.
But that’s not how many snarky individuals used the tool.
From mocking the actress’ lack of connection to Japanese culture, to pointing out different instances of Hollywood’s whitewashing controversies, Twitter made it known that they won’t be fans of the movie.
“I am unable to say Motoko Kusanagi,” reads one meme, with the words across a photo of the actress’ face.
Another that says “I am in love with white feminism,” accompanied by an image of the actress, seems to refer to Johansson’s recent interview with Marie Claire. In the interview, she defended the film’s casting, saying she’d “never presume to play another race of a person.” She also took the opportunity to applaud the anime franchise for featuring a female protagonist.
The film, which will be released later this month, has been criticized for whitewashing ever since early 2015, when it was revealed that Johansson would occupy the lead role.
Big names in the Asian community, including actresses Constance Wu and Ming-Na Wen, spoke out against the film. And a petition from Care2, calling for the film to be recast, generated more than 104,000 signatures.
The “Ghost In The Shell” controversy comes at a time when several other films have featured white actors in roles that many feel should’ve gone to Asians. Emma Stone received backlash for playing part-Asian character Allison Ng in the 2015 film “Aloha.” The next year, Tilda Swinton found herself under fire for taking the role of “The Ancient One,” a Tibetan sorcerer, in the Marvel Comics-based movie “Doctor Strange.” Swinton later solicited Margaret Cho’s opinion on the subject and, while doing so, decided to shift the conversation to feminism, downplaying race in the process.
Actual Asians, however, have had a hard time being cast in Hollywood movies. They nabbed no lead roles and just 3.9 percent of speaking roles in 2015’s top films. Factoring in the recent years’ whitewashing controversies, it’s no wonder Twitter didn’t hold back with its trolling of “Ghost in the Shell.”
Check out more of the witty memes below.