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Scarlett Johansson exits Rub & Tug after outcry over playing trans character

After being met with cries of misrepresentation, and likely a bit of soul searching, Scarlett Johansson has announced that she's left RUB & TUG, the Rupert Sanders-directed film in which she was meant to portray the trans owner of a massage parlor. When her casting in the drama was announced, it took no time at all for members of the transgender community and others to express their shock and disapproval of the situation. The backlash comes not long after Johansson was met with pointed fingers for starring as a whitewashed version of Major Motoko Kusanagi in 2017's GHOST IN THE SHELL - also a Rupert Sanders joint.

Shortly after shit hit the fan with regard to Johansson playing Dante Tex Gill for RUB & TUG, the Black Widow actress released an ill-received statement to Bustle.com that read, “Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.” As you can imagine, this did not go over well with fans of the actress who were standing by with pitchforks in-hand, ready and willing to cancel her on account of her insensitivity toward the matter.

Now, after having taken some time to re-think her position, Johansson has issued a new statement to Out.com, which serves as both an apology to the trans community as well as an announcement of her exit from the project.

You can read Johansson's full statement to Out.com below:

“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 realize it was insensitive. I have great admiration and love for the trans community and am grateful that the conversation regarding inclusivity in Hollywood continues. According to GLAAD, LGBTQ+ characters dropped 40% in 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.”

No further details regarding the state of the RUB & TUG project have been given at this time. Sense would dictate that Rupert Sanders find a trans actor to star in the film, though the fate of the project remains in flux. Meanwhile, it will likely take much more than a well-worded apology from Johansson to get the herself back in people's good graces. After all, there are only so many times you can choose to see a controversial role to its end before your star starts to fade.

Source: Out.com

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