Scarlett Johansson sparks outrage, both by playing a transgender man in a new film and with her negative response to criticism

Scarlett Johansson sparks outrage, both by playing a transgender man in a new film and with her negative response to criticism

Scarlett Johansson’s new movie role is based a real-life ‘transmasculine’ figure from the 1970s.

The project, Rub & Tug, reunites her with Ghost in the Shell director Rupert Sanders. New Regency won the rights to the movie in a high-bidding auction.

Rub & Tug tells the story of Jean Marie Gill in 1970s Pittsburgh, who was able to thrive in a male-dominated society by assuming the identity of a man. According to reports, Gill preferred male pronouns and wanted to be known as a man. Gill clashed with the mob and became a crime kingpin through illicit massage parlors, prostitution, and steroids for Pittsburgh’s NFL team the Steelers. When assuming the identity of Dante ‘Tex’ Gill, Jean Marie was able to start an empire.

Jean Marie Gill

The movie will also explore the relationship with Gill’s girlfriend Cynthia, which Deadline describes as a ‘fiery romance’.

Gary Spinelli is writing the film.

Many people are expressing outrage at Johansson taking on the role of a trans man. However, most outlets have used ‘she/her’ pronouns when writing about Gill, while others described Gill as ‘transmasculine’. An obituary for Gill in the Post-Gazette refers to Gill as ‘the woman who prefers to be known as a man’. Author Torsten Ove uses ‘she/her’ pronouns in the piece. It also says that Gill ‘may even have undergone the initial stages of a sex change that made her appear masculine’. Barry Paris, a Post-Gazette film critic and Gill’s cousin, described Gill as ‘an anomaly for her day, someone who had to hide her sexuality as a single woman in the transgender community, which at the time was so underground it had yet to acquire that label’.

There has long been debate about straight actors playing LGBTI characters, but it is still something that happens often. The apparent lack of trans or any LGBQ people on the project is concerning, as there is still a lack of people in the community with opportunities to tell their own stories.

Further, people are skeptical of Sanders after both his whitewashing and straightwashing Ghost in the Shell.

In a statement obtained by Bustle, Johansson responded to the criticism over her playing this role via her representative: ‘Tell them they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.’

Tambor, disgraced for alleged sexual harassment, won an Emmy for his role as a trans woman on Transparent. Leto won an Oscar for his trans role in Dallas Buyers Club. Huffman was nominated for an Oscar and won the Golden Globe for her trans role in Transamerica.

This response sparked further outrage.

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  1. Mitch
    July 05, 07:53 Reply

    Cast a trans person in trans roles?
    How about we cast straight people in straight roles?
    Gay people in gay roles, lesbians and what have you.
    Cast white people in white roles too.

    People just be ranting like fools for absolutely no reason. Like Eddie Redmayne was a transwoman to have killed his role in The Danish Girl.

  2. HIM
    July 05, 14:00 Reply

    Outrages like this are part of the reason trump might be president again. People get triggered by the slightest things that don’t actually make sense or hold water.

  3. Yazz Soltana
    July 05, 20:19 Reply

    Trans women get little to no roles in movie s and when the only opportunity comes by for them to shine they give the story of a trans person to a privileged person.

  4. Yazz Soltana
    July 05, 20:32 Reply

    Transgender actors rarely get any roles in movies anyway..Godforbid that she has to kiss the male lead who doesn’t want people to think he is gay ..
    The little breakout role that transgenders have telling their stories have to taken by white privileged trash…

  5. Gabriel
    July 05, 21:18 Reply

    Pray tell, all of you triggered by Scarlett, how many talented trans actors and actresses are out there? The truth is Scarlett is pure magic in the screen and she fits the persona that’s required. The only trans actor I know is amazing us Laverne Cox. Stop getting triggered by everything, it doesn’t make you woke!

  6. Black Dynasty
    July 06, 06:12 Reply

    Maybe I am ignorant but I don’t see what the outrage is about.

    This is the story of someone born as a white woman transitioning to a man, Scarlett is a white woman who can play the role and will likely do a great job at it too. How many trans actors are there who can do the film justice?

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