The question journalists aren't allowed to ask Scarlett Johansson.

Considering Scarlett Johansson is in the middle of both a divorce and custody battle, one would assume her private life would be the main topic of conversation off the table in her dealings with the media.

And while Johansson does perhaps keep those cards much closer to her chest, there’s another work-related question she’s not interested in indulging: the white-washing of Hollywood.

Johansson is currently on the press tour for her newest film Ghost in the Shell, which is a Hollywood remake of an ultra-famous Japanese anime story, and since her casting was announced, critics have called the film out for “white-washing”.

And according to Fairfax Reporter Andrew Taylor, it was a topic of conversation journalists were told not to raise during a press conference in New Zealand, after he claims a publicist said they did not want to “offend her and create any animosity”.

So was it a publicist trying to protect the actress, or Johansson giving those direct orders?

It’s hard to tell. Since her casting was announced, Johansson has been rather quiet on the topic.

In fact, incessant criticism has circulated since the end of 2015, when a petition called for the dismissal of Johansson in the place of someone of Asian descent, so it’s a long time to keep relatively mum.

The petition questioned why the studio didn’t choose an ethnically appropriate actor as the film’s lead, while lamenting the lack of diversity on the big screen.

The Binge interviewed Miranda Tapsell about the need for diversity on Australian television and her struggle to get work as an indigenous actress.

“The industry is already unfriendly to Asian actors without roles in major films being changed to exclude them. One recent survey found that in 2013, Asian characters made up only 4.4% of speaking roles in top-grossing Hollywood films,” the petition wrote.

Months later, in April 2016, actress Ming-Na Wen from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and comic-book writer Jon Tsuei took to social media to reinforce the need for Asian actresses and actors to be the face of their own stories.

Ghost in the Shell, while just one film, is a pillar in Asian media,” Tsui wrote on Twitter at the time.


“It’s not simply a sci-fi thriller … This casting is not only the erasure of Asian faces but a removal of the story from its core themes.”

Hollywood star Scarlett Johansson. (Getty)

In addition to just the casting choice, it was alleged in April last year Paramount and DreamWorks commissioned visual effects tests that would’ve altered Johansson's appearance in post-production to “shift her ethnicity” and make her appear more Japanese. It's an allegation Paramount has since denied.

The one time Johansson has addressed the controversy surrounding the film, she told Marie Claire in February she would "never presume to play another race of a person".

"Diversity is important in Hollywood, and I would never want to feel like I was playing a character that was offensive.

"Also, having a franchise with a female protagonist driving it is such a rare opportunity. Certainly, I feel the enormous pressure of that – the weight of such a big property on my shoulders."

Do you think Johansson playing the role of a Japanese woman is offensive?

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