Scarlett Johansson recently got into some hot water over comments she made to As If magazine. Johansson asserted that “as an actor I should be allowed to play any person, or any tree, or any animal because that is my job and the requirements of my job.”
"Hey can I copy your homework?"— Nancy Wang Yuen (@nancywyuen) January 1, 2017
"Yeah but don't make it too obvious" pic.twitter.com/juBURC5Kp6
In the past, Johansson has been criticized for playing an Asian woman in Ghost in the Shell and for initially accepting the role of a trans man in Rub and Tug before deciding to pass.
“I feel like it’s a trend in my business and it needs to happen for various social reasons,” the actress continued. “yet there are times it does get uncomfortable when it affects the art because I feel art should be free of restrictions.”
It’s a complex issue that can be partially explained by unpacking Johansson’s use of the word “allowed.”
“The problem in Hollywood isn’t who’s allowed to play each role, but who gets the opportunity,” Kate Maltby wrote over at CNN.
Even though there are more opportunities for marginalized actors, it still feels like there is a lot of work to be done. Take for example, the controversy over Halle Bailey being cast as Ariel in The Little Mermaid. People lost their collective shit because a woman of color was chosen to play a mermaid. In that context, Johansson’s comments can be seen as a bit tone-deaf.
The serious nature of this debate didn’t stop Twitter users from poking fun at Johansson’s statement—especially the tree part.
this has to be scarlett johansson’s best performance of her career pic.twitter.com/qVo3UEES1J— hikikomori povich (@SarahSahim) July 13, 2019
I’ve been on edge for two days. How can I walk outside without fear knowing that any one of these trees could really be Scarlett Johansson— [crying in spanish] (@SortaBad) July 15, 2019
— Vampy McVamperson (@prairievamp) July 15, 2019
I thought I saw her too, but I wasn’t sure pic.twitter.com/ySGjtgXGO2
— Emily 🌹❤✨ (@schrodinger_25) July 14, 2019
Is she friends with chris pine?
— His name is Remy (@SaveMe_NJ11) July 13, 2019
scarlett johansson’s next roles talking to each other pic.twitter.com/dLlTpku6Ca— sutton 𐋀 (@nasaromanovas) July 13, 2019
“Speed” remake with Scarlett Johansson as the bus— pixelatedboat aka “mr tweets” (@pixelatedboat) July 14, 2019
In a statement made on Monday, Johansson said her comments were taken out of context:
“I recognize that in reality, there is a wide spread discrepancy amongst my industry that favors Caucasian, cisgender actors and that not every actor has been given the same opportunities that I have been privileged to.”