One of the most infuriating reactions to the live-action Ghost in the Shell adaptation debacle, was this reliance on Japanese – specifically ethnically Japanese – voices to validate the casting choices as being acceptable. Let’s get one thing straight – Japanese people from Japan have no more of a right to act as moral arbiters in this issue than Caucasians do.
Internet commentators have taken these stories and ran with them, using them to justify and calm fears of whitewashing by saying that, ‘well, the Japanese themselves have no problem with the film; case closed’.
Regardless of how representative these reactions might be of the actual Japanese public, the fact that people regard Japanese opinions as being at all relevant in this issue is ludicrous, and immensely ignorant.
The reaction from Japan, and why it shouldn’t be taken seriously, comes down to two things:
In a homogeneous country like Japan where roughly only 1.5% of the population is racially non-Japanese, things like discrimination and marginalization of minorities are not exactly hot button issues. There simply isn’t the same level of awareness of these issues in Japan as there is in America.
- And why would there be? The Japanese are not a minority group of people in their home country. They enjoy movies from America like most countries do and have certain expectations about how these productions tend to turn out. And because they are the majority, just like Caucasians are in America, why would they care about whether or not The Major is Japanese? After all, they have their own burgeoning film industry filled with Japanese actors to rely on for fair representations of themselves in media, and haven’t experienced the same displacement from society/popular culture that Asians in America – or any Western country – have.
As a majority group, it simply isn’t the place of ethnically Japanese people to comment, or be taken seriously on this matter. It’d be just as ridiculous to defer to an article titled ‘White People Have No Problem With GiTS Casting’ and say, “See! What’s everyone whining about, white people said it’s ok!”
It’s ignorant, and harmful, to conflate the opinions of Asian Americans with that of ethnically Japanese people. We should be listening to the voices of the Asian diaspora that live as minorities in Western countries, and not what people are saying on the internet in Japan.