What is the web-o-sphere angry about this week? From Scarlett Johansson speaking out against “politically correct casting” to a movie trailer that freaked the entire internet out, here’s everything you need to know.
People don’t know what to make of the Cats trailer
THE STORY: The trailer for the film adaptation of the hit Broadway musical just dropped and people have thoughts. From the “digital fur technology” used in the film to seeing celebs like Judi Dench, Idris Elba and Taylor Swift with whiskers and tails to the strange experience of watching human-cat hybrids crawling all over enormous furniture, it’s just a lot.
RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE RAGE: As someone with no feelings whatsoever about Cats as a musical, I clicked play on the trailer with literally no expectations and found it… Unsettling. Creepy. Weird. Watching actors in very obvious cat costumes on stage is one thing, seeing them anthropomorphized into sexualised felines prancing about the place is another. I could’ve done without having images of cats with breasts imprinted on my brain, or a furry James Corden spitting food onto another cat, or Judi Dench confusingly wearing a fur coat over her… fur? At least I’m not alone in this, as evidenced by all of Twitter and this excellent Boston Globe headline: “Cats trailer unites the internet in abject terror.”
Scarlett Johansson isn’t happy about “politically correct” casting
THE STORY: In an interview with As If magazine, Scarlett Johansson—who got flak for playing a Japanese character in 2017’s Ghost In The Shell, and for accepting the role of a transgender man in the upcoming film Rub & Tug (she dropped out after a public outcry)—complained about the newfound political correctness of Hollywood. “Today there’s a lot of emphasis and conversation about what acting is and who we want to see represent ourselves on screen, “The question is, what is acting anyway?” You know, as an actor I should be allowed to play any person, or any tree, or any animal because that is my job and the requirements of my job.”
RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE RAGE:
Johansson issued a clarification to The Hollywood Reporter a couple of days after the interview was published, saying her words were taken out of context. “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,” adding, “I recognize that in reality, there is a widespread discrepancy amongst my industry that favours Caucasian, cisgendered 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.”
The fact that this is the third time Johansson has come under fire on this issue just goes to show that she hasn’t used those past incidents to actually reflect on Hollywood’s inclusion problem and her own complicity in it. What she doesn’t seem to realize—even though she might say she does—is that by putting herself in the running to play characters of different ethnicities or gender identities, she’s actively taking those roles away from people far better suited for them, and whose pool of opportunities is already limited considering how few roles there are in Hollywood for non-white, non-cis actors.
An Alberta couple is photographed next to a dead lion
THE STORY: According to The Independent, a Canadian couple from Edmonton recently went on a trophy hunting trip to South Africa, where they shot and killed at least two lions. (Trophy hunting is legal in 63 countries, including South Africa.) Shortly after killing one of the lions, they posted a picture of themselves with the lion’s dead body on Instagram, along with the caption, “There is nothing like hunting the king of the jungle.” The couple has since disabled their Facebook page, Instagram page and website for the taxidermy company they run in Edmonton.
RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE RAGE:
According to the World Wildlife Fund, African lions have been officially classified as “vulnerable,” with only 20,000 of them left in the wild. “African lion numbers have plummeted by over 40% in the last three generations,” notes WWF, so the fact that they continue to be legally hunted for sport is appalling, as is the couple’s tasteless sharing of the image on their social media accounts, and clear rejoicing in the death of a near-endangered animal. (All this unfolding during the week of The Lion King release, when the world is revelling in the majesty and beauty of these animals, makes it all even worse.)