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.

Most Shared
via The Guardian / YouTube

Beluga whales are affectionately known as sea canaries for their song-like vocalizations, and their name is the Russian word for "white."

They are sociable animals that live, hunt, and migrate together in pods, ranging from a few individuals to hundreds of whales. However, they are naturally reticent to interact with humans, although some solitary belugas are known to approach boats.

Once such beluga that's believed to live in Norwegian waters is so comfortable among humans that it played fetch with a rugby ball.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Many of us are too young to remember the hijacking of Pan Am Flight 73 of 1986, much less any details about it. But thanks to a viral Facebook post from Misfit History, some attention is being shed on an incredible heroine who saved many American lives in the standoff.

The post reads:

Keep Reading Show less
popular

The truth doesn't hurt for an elementary school teacher in California who's gone viral for teaching her class an empowering remix of one of Lizzo's hit songs.

Ms. Mallari — who teaches at Los Medanos Elementary School in Pittsburg, east of San Francisco — took the singer's song, "Truth Hurts," and reworked the lyrics to teach her students how to be great.

Lizzo's song made history this year for being the longest running number one single from a female rap artist. The catchy original lyrics are about boy problems, but Mallari's remix teaches her students about fairness, helping each other out, and embracing their own greatness.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
via Newsy People / Twitter

The internet was ablaze after notoriously private actor Keanu Reeves, 55, walked the red carpet at the LACMA Art + Film Gala on Saturday with his new girlfriend, artist Alexandra Grant, 46.

It was refreshing to see a man in Hollywood dating a woman who's age-appropriate. Older actors are notorious for being with women half their age.

Keep Reading Show less
popular