After a vast backlash from transgender activists, Scarlett Johansson has now pulled out of her role as a transgender man in Rub and Tug, a new film regarding a massage parlor. Johansson told Out magazine:
In light of recent ethical questions raised surrounding my casting as Dante Tex Gill, I have decided to respectfully withdraw my participation in the project. Our cultural understanding of transgender people continues to advance, and I’ve learned a lot from the community since making my first statement about my casting and am grateful that the conversation regarding inclusivity in Hollywood continues. According to GLAAD, LGBTQ+ characters dropped 40% from 2017 from the previous year, with no representation of trans characters in any major studio release. While I would have loved the opportunity to bring Dante’s story and transition to life, I understand why many feel he should be portrayed by a transgender person, and I am thankful that this casting debate, albeit controversial, has sparked a larger conversation about diversity and representation in film. I believe that all artists should be considered equally and fairly. My production company, These Pictures, actively pursues projects that both entertain and push boundaries. We look forward to working with every community to bring these most poignant and important stories to audiences worldwide.
This will mean that the film likely receives far less distribution if it is even made at all. But at least the groupthink in Hollywood continues to grow in strength.
This is asinine in the fullest sense. First off, Johansson is a biological woman playing a man; transgender advocates say that only a biological woman who believes she is a man can play a biological woman playing a man. Presumably, then, only a gay man should be able to play a gay man, since a straight man playing a gay man doesn’t actually believe he’s a gay man. The same should hold true for straight men as well. For that matter, only a person who believes he is Superman should actually be able to play Superman; anything less represents “stealing” a narrative.
Second, Hollywood would presumably not demand that a biological cisgender woman play a biological cisgender woman on screen. If Laverne Cox wanted to play Harriet Tubman, the Left would praise that casting as pure genius, in all likelihood. So the standard only holds in one direction.
But at least the activists are ecstatic about their censorious nonsense. GLAAD cheered:
Scarlett Johansson’s announcement, together with the transgender voices who spoke out about this film, are game changers for the future of transgender images in Hollywood. Hollywood changed how Americans understand gay and lesbian lives, and TV is starting to do the same for transgender people with authentic transgender portrayals being major hits with critics and audiences. The film industry has a real opportunity to do the same.
Actually, the film industry will probably shelve Rub and Tug, and the story won’t be told at all. Also, Jared Leto should give back his Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club. After all, that casting was pure bigotry.