Scarlett Johansson Surrenders to Diversity Police

Actress Scarlett Johansson (Shutterstock)

Over the weekend, I was cheering that a Hollywood A-lister was finally standing up to the diversity police. In an interview with As If magazine, Scarlett Johansson made the sensible and correct claim that actors “should be allowed to play any person, or any tree, or any animal because that is my job and the requirements of my job.” Sadly, after facing the fury of social justice warriors, the actress has walked back her statement and bowed to the politically correct rules of the diversity police.


In a statement, Johansson protests that the interview “had been edited for clickbait and is widely taken out of context.” She continued by explaining:

The question I was answering in my conversation with the contemporary artist, David Salle, was about the confrontation between political correctness and art. I personally feel that, in an ideal world, any actor should be able to play anybody and Art, in all forms, should be immune to political correctness. That is the point I was making, albeit didn’t come across that way. I recognize that in reality there is a widespread discrepancy amongst my industry that favors Caucasian, cisgender actors and that not every actor has been given the same opportunities that I have been privileged to, I continue to support, and always have, diversity in every industry and will continue to fight for projects where everyone is included.


While I’m not surprised that Scarlett Johansson has “clarified” her statement, it’s disappointing, nonetheless.

When she referenced the interview being edited and taken out of context, I’m not sure if she means the As If article containing the original interview or The Daily Mail article that first publicized her comments. Because reading the As If article, I fail to see how her comments have been taken out of context. After the comment that has everyone riled up, artist David Salle responds, “Yes. Must you only represent yourself, your gender, your ethnicity, or can you, in fact, play beyond these categories?”

To which the actress doubles down and says, “There are a lot of social lines being drawn now, and a lot of political correctness is being reflected in art.” To be fair, she does add, “You know, I feel like it’s a trend in my business and it needs to happen for various social reasons, yet there are times it does get uncomfortable when it affects the art because I feel art should be free of restrictions.”

I guess if she protests enough she can lean on the one statement: “it needs to happen for various social reasons,” but her tone in the article is one of disagreement with the overall trend. If that’s true, she’s right. Producers and directors should cast the best actor for the role. And acting requires playing someone you’re not, most often a fictional character. It would be sad and detrimental to the craft of acting if only people who are like the character are allowed to play the character. It’s called acting for a reason.


Let’s hope that more Hollywood stars begin pushing back on the diversity police and the new rules. And let’s hope that when they do, they won’t cave like Scarlett Johansson.


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