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New 'Ghost in the Shell' trailer arrives to distract from whitewashing issues

Scarlett Johansson may be playing a Japanese character —but hey, look, it's a new ad!
ghost in the shell

"Ghost in the Shell," starring Scarlett Johansson as a traditionally Japanese heroParamount Pictures

Just a hair over a week after dropping a 30-second promo into the Super Bowl onslaught, the “Ghost in the Shell” team are at it again. This morning they hit the Internet with a new two-minute trailer, which offers similar but different sights than the one that’s been playing in theaters for months. You get to see more androids, more ScarJo caterwauling in a skin-tight, flesh-colored get-up, part of her robotic face being creepily removed. Sadly, we’re still stuck with mere flashes of supporting players "Beat" Takeshi Kitano and Juliette Binoche, who we don’t suspect will be as well-used here as she was in “Godzilla.”

But perhaps this is not your typical media blitz. The latest trailer arrives soon after Scarlett Johansson’s Marie Claire interview, in which she “broke her silence” over the main sticking point that could potentially tarnish her new blockbuster: that the lilywhite actress was cast as a beloved character — the lead of the endless “Ghost in the Shell” media empire of mangas and anime films — who, of course, is Japanese. It’s the latest (and probably not the last) example of “white-washing,” in which Hollywood execs still assume they won’t make their untold dimes back if they cast a non-white, non-American in the leads.

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As the Internet noted, Johansson didn’t really address it so much as dodge it, then try to change the subject. “I certainly would never presume to play another race of a person,” the actress told the rag. So there’s that. She then quickly pointed out that franchises with female leads are important, too. True! But in trying to be progressive about gender, was she really saying, as many an Internet commenter charged, that feminism is more important than race? Did she really mean to imply that kowtowing to one diversity issue cancels out the other?

Team “Ghost in the Shell” Movie’s response? More trailers! Dazzle ’em with glitz and ScarJo shooting baddies! Maybe it’ll turn out that only a slither of humanity is really peeved about this and that the masses just don’t care, much like how Trump voters don’t seem to realize the droog they voted for is an incompetent serial liar because they’ve been trained to no longer listen to the media that relentlessly fact-checks him! This whole affair is weirdly close to that episode of "The Simpsons" where Lisa creates a smart, feminist version of Malibu Stacy, and the Malibu Stacy corporation responds by creating a newll doll that only has a new hat. Clang clang! Pew pew!

Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge

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