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Scarlett Johansson has granted an extensive interview for the latest issue of The GentleWoman magazine and, among many other things, has talked about politics -and a lot- while arguing that perhaps actors shouldn’t talk about politics.
“I don’t think actors have an obligation to have a public role in society,” Scarlett Johansson asserted. “Some people want to do it, but the idea that you’re obligated to do it because you’re in the public eye is unfair. You didn’t choose to be a politician, you’re an actor.”
Many conservative media outlets – such as Fox News or The Blaze – have jumped in to praise this statement by Scarlett Johansson, which is very reasonable. But if we read the rest of the interview, we can realize that it is as reasonable as it is not very honest.
Scarlett Johansson’s reflection came after being questioned about some controversies related to politics in which the actress had been involved before, and for which she was attacked by the left.
Although with these statements Scarlett Johansson may seem apolitical, the truth is that she has always shown a clear support for the Democratic Party and leftist ideas. In 2004 she campaigned for the Democratic candidate John Kerry, and the American actress thought she spoke for many Americans when, after the re-election of George W. Bush, she said that she was “disappointed and I think it has been a great disappointment for a high percentage of the population”.
In 2008 she actively supported the Democratic candidacy by speaking in his favor at various universities, and even participating in the “Yes We Can” music video, which would become President Obama’s slogan.
And, of course, in 2016 she took advantage of the superpowers granted by being Black Widow in Avengers to -along with Robert Downey Jr., Joss Whedon, and other artists- fight against Donald Trump’s candidacy as if he were Ultron himself.
In 2017, she said she felt “baffled” and -once again- “disappointed” by Ivanka Trump, and in 2020, after supporting Elizabeth Warren in the primaries, she met again with the Avengers on the occasion of the elections, to try to prevent Trump’s re-election, as if she were facing nothing less than Thanos.
On all these occasions, Scarlett Johansson had absolutely no problem getting into politics being an actress. It has been two incidents with the left that have prompted the actress’s recent statements.
In her own interview for The GentleWoman, Scarlett Johansson said that, on the one hand, she is “going to have opinions about things, because that’s who I am.” But, on the other hand, “everyone has a hard time admitting they’re wrong about something, and to have all that come out, it can be embarrassing.”
He stressed that “I’m also a person” but that she is trying to learn to “recognize when it’s not your turn to talk.”
Of course, she is not referring to any of her previous public pronouncements, but to the criticism she received from the left when she wanted to play a transgender character in the film Rub and Tug; and to when she played Major Motoko Kusanagi, a synthetic-cybernetic augmented full-body prosthetic, in Ghost in the Shell.
With the 2017 film Ghost in the Shell, a 2017 adaptation of the popular sci-fi manga and anime, the left roared over the fact that Scarlett Johansson was cast as the lead and not an Asian actress. It mattered little to the Western left that the Japanese themselves adored Scarlett as Major, or that they didn’t even understand that this could be a problem since to them it is perfectly normal for manga and anime to depict Westernized characters.
However, in an interview for Marie Claire, Scarlett Johansson caved to pressure from the left and said, “Diversity is important in Hollywood, and I would never want to feel like I’m playing a character that is offensive.”
In 2018 it seems that Scarlett Johansson already internalized the fact that one should not antagonize the left, and directly gave up a role in the movie Rub & Tug, after the left objected to her hiring.
The character she was going to play was Dante Tex Gill, an American transgender gangster, and owner of massage parlors. The left thought it was wrong for Scarlett to play him, for not being transgender and -we suppose- neither a gangster, nor a massage parlor owner, but rather her job is as an actress. And that job is precisely – at least to date – to act as if you were someone else.
Scarlett Johansson hasn’t learned not to talk about politics, but rather not to annoy the left
If we dispense with context, Scarlett Johansson’s call for actors not to have the need to talk about politics but simply to get on with acting would make a lot of sense.
However, after this brief moment of lucidity, in her own interview for The GentleWoman, Scarlett went on to explain how on the night of the last election, going to bed as Trump was winning, she couldn’t sleep, again very disappointed. Of course, when Biden finally won, she cried tears of joy and thought, “Oh my God, it’s all over. I felt like a war was over, you know?”.
For Scarlett Johnasson, Biden’s arrival at the White House was “like when your life falls apart and an older person, your parents’ friend or your uncle, says, ‘It’s going to be okay.’ And you say, ‘Aaargh!'”.
Therefore, we can affirm that Scarlett Johansson is not that she has had an epiphany and has realized that the most sensible thing for an actor is to limit herself to acting, so as not to become the puppet of politicians eager to use their fame and influence; but that the only lessons she has learned are that in Hollywood you should not have political opinions that bother the left and that you should give in to the requests of any progressive collective that feels offended.
Ignacio Manuel García Medina, Business Management teacher. Artist and lecturer specialized in Popular Culture for various platforms. Presenter of the program "Pop Libertario" for the Juan de Mariana Institute. Lives in the Canary Islands, Spain // Ignacio M. García Medina es profesor de Gestión de Empresas. Es miembro del Instituto Juan de Mariana y conferenciante especializado en Cultura Popular e ideas de la Libertad.
Social Networks: @ignaciomgm