CM

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Upcoming Scarlett Johansson movie Ghost in the Shell has been accused of ‘whitewashing’ after the first stills from the film were released last week.

The movie is a live-action remake of a classic Japanese anime and many have responded negatively to Johansson’s casting, saying an Asian actor would be better suited to the part.

The backlash initially began last year when Johansson’s casting as cyborg policewoman Major Kusanagi was announced, causing a petition to appear online calling for the role to be recast. The petition has so far been signed by over 91,000 supporters.

But the controversy was reignited last Wednesday when Paramount revealed the first images from the film. Critics of Johansson’s casting included actor Ming-Na Wen, best known for her role as Melinda May in ‘Agents of SHIELD’ and as the voice of Disney’s Mulan.

Nothing against Scarlett Johansson. In fact, I’m a big fan. But everything against this whitewashing of Asian role’, Wen wrote on twitter. Comic book writer Jon Tsuei also criticised Johansson’s casting, tweeting: ‘Ghost In The Shell, while just one film, is a pillar in Asian media. It’s not simply a scifi thriller. Not to me, not to many others.’ ‘Understand that media from Asia holds a dear place in the hearts of many Asians in the west, simply because western media doesn’t show us,’ Tsuei added. On twitter fans also offered suggestions of actors who may have been better suited to the role, including Pacific Rim’s Rinko Kikuchi and ‘Once Upon A Time’s’ Jamie Chung. The film has also been accused of testing visual effects to try and make white actors appear more Asian, according to an article by Screen Crush. The website reports that studios Paramount and DreamWorks ‘commissioned visual effects tests that would’ve altered Scarlett Johansson in post-production to shift her ethnicity’ and make her appear more Asian in the film.

They added that although the tests were requested by the production team, once they were developed and reviewed, the idea was rejected “immediately”. In a statement, Paramount acknowledged the tests but denied they were done on Johansson.

“A test was done related to a specific scene for a background actor which was ultimately discarded,” Paramount told Screen Crush. “Absolutely no visual effects tests were conducted on Scarlett’s character and we have no future plans to do so.” Ghost in the Shell is scheduled to open in theatres on March 31, 2017.