Fans are accusing blockbuster Ghost in the Shell of straightwashing.
The ill-fated blockbuster can add a new item to the list of problems haunting it, after accusations of whitewashing arose when producers cast American actress Scarlett Johansson in the iconic role of cyborg Major Motoko Kusanagi.
This time, Ghost in the Shell is facing allegations of queer-baiting and straightwashing.
In the original manga and anime, Motoko is depicted as either lesbian or bisexual.
It is never cleared up which label matches.
In the manga, Motoko is seen having sex with another woman, as part of a cyber prostitution side-gig.
In the subsequent anime, called Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, she is shown half-naked in bed with two other women.
The trailer for this year’s remake teased a lesbian scene and made it look fairly lengthy.
But in the final film fans who were hoping to see this side of Motoko were left disappointed, as the scene was the same as in the trailer.
Film writer David Opie was first to comment on the missing scene, saying it could have been ‘refreshing’ to not focuse on Motoko’s sexuality.
’However, [director Rupert] Sanders and his team did ultimately sexualize her character through numerous action scenes featuring Johansson in the nude, which arguably reinforces how the lack of bisexual representation here is even more of a missed opportunity,’ he said.
‘Sure, Motoko’s body may just be a “shell”, but if the remake had taken longer to explore the complexities of her “ghost” instead, then we could have finally seen the first openly bisexual action hero on our screens.’
Even before its release, Ghost in the Shell was already accused of whitewashing when producers cast Scarlett Johansson, a white woman, in an iconic Japanese role.
Throughout the film, she is only referred to as The Major, which fans said further erased her originally Japanese identity.
It also got a 45% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
And to make matters worse, Ghost in the Shell flopped at the box office during its opening weekend.
It raised just 18.67 million in the US, which means it lost out to the marginally better rated The Boss Baby, which raised $53.3 million.
So far, Ghost in the Shell has not been released in Japan.