Full disclosure I am a Scarlett Johansson fan. I really do like her as an actress.Also I’m a big fan of equality and often post bemused tweets as to why in the 21st Century we appear to be further apart than more inclusive.So these two things have collided with the news that Scarlett has been cast to play a transsexual in the forthcoming movie Rub and Tug.The case against her and the studio is that the role should have gone to a trans actor. Many have tweeted that cis women are part of the problem taking these roles from transsexuals.Whilst I would certainly agree that the movie & TV industry should have a much higher representation of Transexual actors, writers and directors etc, the reality is that isn’t going to happen over night.I truly admire all those that fight for equal rights and representation of the LGBT community. The younger generation (which I believe I can technically still class myself as) have seen this society is fucked and want it changed for the better.Yet with that admirable desire comes the impatience of youth. People would like change and kind of want it now but the reality is it isn’t going to happen over night.There are people who have views that you do not agree with. Whilst I am not suggesting we should appreciate their views we should understand them. The older generations do come from a time where trans people are seen as wrong. It’s abhorrent but it is where we find ourselves.This would obviously cause a dilemma for even the most free thinking movie studio.Hollywood is after all a business. Awards and brilliant reviews are great but it all boils down to making money.It is unforgiving, if something is working they will flog it to death and then move onto the next thing when it becomes no longer commercially viable.When they have attempted diversity, bar a few notable exceptions, movies normally end up with a token black or gay person, often portraying them as a caricature for comedic effect.My view of Rub and Tug is there is a risk that rather than be a positive step forward for the inclusion of more trans actors it could have the opposite effect if a trans actor was cast in the lead role..I accept it could also be a huge hit but the harsh unfair reality of Hollywood is you need a star to sell a movie. As I’ve said I have no doubt there are trans actors out there more than capable of giving an awesome performance but the majority of movie goers aren’t going to know who they are.
Whether we like it or not a movie where the main character is a transsexual played by a transexual is not going to be a draw for a bunch of people who are still processing why that woman had a dick in The Crying Game.
‘So what? Fuck those guys’ is the obvious response and I agree with that sentiment but it ignores the reality of Hollywood business.If a trans actor was cast in the lead and it was a commercial and critical failure you can imagine boardrooms in Hollywood declaring they best not try that again. Trans people then risk that caricatured tokenism we have seen with other communities.So to Scarlett. She’s got a bit of flack for accepting the role with some levelling accusations that this is a personal slight against the transsexual community. I think such allegations are unwarranted and would counter that instead she’s actually taking on quite a burden to fairly represent this community.Whether she does or not will be down to her performance. But to prejudge this is dangerous.
My view is that we shouldn’t want this movie to fail because she’s in it but rather we should want it to succeed
Scarlett is a star, there is no denying that. People will go see a movie just because she’s in it. Therefore you are going to get people who may hold negative views of trans people watching it. Her performance could change those people’s views,If her performance is good and the movie is successful then this would open the doors for future movies which will then hopefully include actual trans actors.The ultimate movie utopia would be to watch a movie where the actors are not defined by who they are. A true reflection of society , where writers are not just writing roles strictly for white men or women but could be played by people of colour or transsexuals.I am of course referring to those run of the mill summer blockbusters but of course the LGBT community have many stories to tell. It is perhaps too much to ask that the major studios with their eye on the dollar to take a risk. Yet below them are scores of eager independent filmmakers ready to tell these stories.My point is that if Scarlett makes a success of this movie then the door will be opened enough to allow those stories to be told.