Here Is the Column About ScarJo That Business Insider Spiked to Appease a Social Justice Mob


Editor’s note: This column was published by Business Insider before being removed from the website for violating “editorial standards.” The Daily Beast reported that staffers complained about the column. It appears here exactly as originally published.

Scarlett Johansson is the latest target of the social-justice warrior mob. The actress is being chastised for, well, acting.

She has been cast in a movie in which she will play someone different than herself. For this great crime — which seems to essentially define the career path she has chosen—she is being castigated for being insufficiently sensitive to the transgender community.

Johansson is set to play a transgender man in an upcoming film, “Rub and Tug,” a film based on the true story of transgender massage parlor owner Dante “Tex” Gill. The announcement quickly garnered a reaction.

Trace Lysette, a transgender actress who plays Shea on “Transparent” took to Twitter: “And not only do you play us and steal our narrative and our opportunity but you pat yourselves on the back with trophies and accolades for mimicking what we have lived… so twisted. I’m so done.”

Her framing of the issue, which has been echoed by other actors and activists, is off base. “Stealing” narratives — or, more charitably, playing parts — is precisely what actors are hired to do. But that reality seems to have been forgotten. CNN wrote a story about the issue entitled, “These trans actors could have been cast instead of Scarlett Johansson in her new movie.”

It’s hard to imagine people having the same reaction in other scenarios — a rich actor being hired to play a poor person; an actor whose real-life parents were still living being hired to play an orphan; a perfectly nice, upstanding member of society being cast as a rapist; or an actor with no scientific experience being cast as a paleontologist.

Yet all of these examples (and dozens more) could also be strangely characterized as “stealing” narratives. I’m sure there’s a class on how to do just that at the Yale school of Drama.

A New York Times story on the fallout described the online backlash as being “led by transgender actors, who argued that such casting decisions take opportunities away from members of marginalized communities.”

What they fail to acknowledge is that the job of an actor is to represent someone else. Johansson’s identity off the screen is irrelevant to the identities she plays on the screen. That’s what she’s paid for. And if she does her job, she’ll make everyone forget about the controversy in the first place.





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