Why Scarlett Johansson is 'thankful' for the debate that led her to drop out of a movie.

Just 10 days after announcing that she'd be starring in the upcoming Dante "Tex" Gill biopic, Scarlett Johansson has dropped out.

The controversial role would have seen Johansson as Gill, a transgender man and massage parlor operator who gained notoriety in the '70s and '80s.

There was immediate backlash to her casting, with a number of red flags apparent even in the film's announcement itself: The story, broken by Deadline, described Gill by his birth name and strongly hinted that the movie would center around the "fiery romance with her [sic] girlfriend."


In other words, it sounded a lot like this man's story was about to be turned into a lesbian love drama — which, according to one of Gill's relatives, he probably wouldn't have been super thrilled by.

Yikes.

Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images.

Johansson's withdrawal from the film illustrates a respectful look at the importance of ethics in entertainment.

Her statement, provided to Out.com, expressed regret for her original defense of the casting and added that she realized she wasn't approaching the topic with the sensitivity it deserves.

"I have great admiration and love for the trans community and am grateful that the conversation regarding inclusivity in Hollywood continues," she said, highlighting stats provided by GLAAD showing a drop in trans representation between 2016 and 2017. "While I would have loved the opportunity to bring Dante's story and transition to life, I understand why many feel he should be portrayed 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."

Certainly, there will be people who view this move as an example of an internet mob, political correctness run amok, or something else of the sort. It's not.

People have strong opinions about casting decisions all the time. Sometimes the people upset with the casting decisions get it right (sorry, Jake Gyllenhaal, but the "Prince of Persia" role just wasn't a good fit), and sometimes they get it laughably wrong (in 2006, a lot of people were apoplectic over Heath Ledger as the Joker).

The point is that these things happen, they get talked about a lot, and then they fade.

For some reason, however, not all criticisms seem to be treated equally. At times, particularly when the issue involves roles crossing transgender or racial lines, there's a backlash to the backlash. It's almost as though everybody has emotions and opinions about certain things, but certain groups have those emotions and opinions policed more than others.

The simple truth is that sometimes a role just isn't a good fit for someone. Sacha Baron Cohen dropped out of the Freddie Mercury biopic. Ed Skrein ducked out of the "Hellboy" reboot. Terry Crews dropped out of "Expendables 4." They all have very different reasons for doing so. It's fine.

While not a household name like Johansson, actor and comedian Ian Harvie, a trans man, certainly looks more like Gill than the "Avengers" star. Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images.

Nobody made Johansson drop out. She did it anyway — and that's a big credit to her.

As a transgender person, I honestly dread the handwringing we're about to see from people and how it'll be weaponized against my community.

Nobody forced Johansson to drop out of the movie. In the coming days and weeks, I feel like that's important to remember.

Much to the chagrin of trans people everywhere, Jared Leto won an Oscar for his heavily criticized portrayal of a trans woman in "Dallas Buyers Club." Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images.

Johansson could have, as many actors have before, put out the film anyway. It probably would have made many people cringe, it probably would have been pretty ahistorical, and it probably wouldn't have done much to advance the cause of trans acceptance — but she could have done it. Maybe she'd have even won an award for it.

What she did instead shows that she listened to people expressing valid concerns and she was thoughtful in considering the issues they were raising. I hope that people give her credit for listening to feedback and responding like a person who wants to learn, grow, and be empathetic.

Courtesy of Creative Commons
True

After years of service as a military nurse in the naval Marine Corps, Los Angeles, California-resident Rhonda Jackson became one of the 37,000 retired veterans in the U.S. who are currently experiencing homelessness — roughly eight percent of the entire homeless population.

"I was living in a one-bedroom apartment with no heat for two years," Jackson said. "The Department of Veterans Affairs was doing everything they could to help but I was not in a good situation."

One day in 2019, Jackson felt a sudden sense of hope for a better living arrangement when she caught wind of the ongoing construction of Veteran's Village in Carson, California — a 51-unit affordable housing development with one, two and three-bedroom apartments and supportive services to residents through a partnership with U.S.VETS.

Her feelings of hope quickly blossomed into a vision for her future when she learned that Veteran's Village was taking applications for residents to move in later that year after construction was complete.

"I was entered into a lottery and I just said to myself, 'Okay, this is going to work out,'" Jackson said. "The next thing I knew, I had won the lottery — in more ways than one."

Keep Reading Show less

Cats are notoriously weird. Everyone who's had cats knows that they each have their own unique quirks, idiosyncrasies, preferences, habits, and flat-out WTFness.

But even those of us who have experience with bizarre cat behavior are blown away by the antics this "cat dad" is able to get away with.

Kareem and Fifi are the cat parents of Chase, Skye, and Millie—literally the most chill kitties ever. They share their family life on TikTok as @dontstopmeowing, and their videos have been viewed millions of times. When you see them, you'll understand why.

Take Chase's spa days, for example. It may seem unreal at first, but watch what happens when Fifi tries to take away his cucumber slices.

When she puts them back on his eyes? WHAT?! What cat would let you put them on once, much less get mad when you take them off?

This cat. Chase is living his best life.

But apparently, it's not just Chase. Skye and Millie have also joined in "spaw day." How on earth does one couple end up with three hilariously malleable cats?

Oh, and if you think they must have been sedated or something, look at how wide awake they are during bath time. That's right, bath time. Most cats hate water, but apparently, these three couldn't care less. How?

They'll literally do anything. The Don't Stop Meowing channel is filled with videos like this. Cats wearing glasses. Cats wearing hats. Cats driving cars. It's unbelievable yet highly watchable entertainment.

If you're worried that Kareem gets all the love and Fifi constantly gets the shaft, that seems to be a bit for show. Look at Chase and Fifi's conversation about her leaving town for a business trip:

The whole channel is worth checking out. Ever seen a cat being carried in a baby carrier at the grocery store? A cat buckled into a car seat? Three cats sitting through storytime? It's all there. (Just a heads up: A few of the videos have explicit language, so parents might want to do a preview before watching with little ones.) You can follow the couple and their cats on all their social media channels, including Instagram and YouTube if TikTok isn't your thing, here.

If you weren't a cat person before, these videos might change your mind. Fair warning, however: Getting a cat because you want them to do things like this would be a mistake. Cats do what they want to do, and no one can predict what weird traits they will have. Even if you raise them from kittenhood, they're still unpredictable and weird.

And honestly, we wouldn't have them any other way.

True

We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

This sweet story is brought to you by Sumo Citrus®. This oversized mandarin is celebrated for its incredible taste and distinct looks. Sumo Citrus is super-sweet, enormous, easy-to-peel, seedless, and juicy without the mess. Fans of the fruit are obsessive, stocking up from January to April when Sumo Citrus is in stores. To learn more, visit sumocitrus.com and @sumocitrus.

You know that feeling you get when you walk into a classroom and see someone else's stuff on your desk?

OK, sure, there are no assigned seats, but you've been sitting at the same desk since the first day and everyone knows it.

So why does the guy who sits next to you put his phone, his book, his charger, his lunch, and his laptop in the space that's rightfully yours? It's annoying!

Keep Reading Show less

There have been many iconic dance routines throughout film history, but how many have the honor being called "the greatest" by Fred Astaire himself?

Fayard and Harold Nicholas, known collectively as the Nicholas Brothers, were arguably the best at what they did during their heyday. Their coordinated tap routines are legendary, not only because they were great dancers, but because of their incredible ability to jump into the air and land in the splits. Repeatedly. From impressive heights.

Their most famous routine comes from the movie "Stormy Weather." As Cab Calloway sings "Jumpin' Jive," the Nicholas Brothers make the entire set their dance floor, hopping and tapping from podium to podium amongst the musicians, dancing up and down stairs and across the top of a piano.

But what makes this scene extra impressive is that they performed it without rehearsing it first and it was filmed in one take—no fancy editing room tricks to bring it all together. This fact was confirmed in a conversation with the brothers in a Chicago Tribune article in 1997, when they were both in their 70s:

"Would you believe that was one of the easiest things we ever did?" Harold told the paper.

"Did you know that we never even rehearsed that number?" added Fayard.

"When it came time to do that part, (choreographer) Nick Castle said: 'Just do it. Don`t rehearse it, just do it.' And so we did it—in one little take. And then he said: 'That's it—we can't do it any better than that.'"

Keep Reading Show less