Scarlett Johansson Responds After Meme Dunkfest Ridiculed Her Controversial Comments On Race, Gender, And Acting

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.”

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.

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.”