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    Scarlett Johansson pulls out of Rub & Tug

    Scarlett Johansson pulls out of Rub & Tug


    Learning from criticism — or at least knowing when to admit you’ve lost — is a beautiful thing

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    What a fortnight it’s been for ScarJo! From the jump, it was off to a rocky start: it was announced that she would star as Dante “Tex” Gill, a trans man, in a new biopic about the massage parlor mogul called Rub & Tug. It was not good. There were memes. Then, earlier this week, news broke that after years of speculation, Marvel was indeed moving forward on a standalone Black Widow film. Finally, today, it ends with a denouement: Johansson released an exclusive statement to Out magazine saying she’d dropped out of her casting as Gill. Her words, in full:

    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.

    It’s a sight better than Johansson’s initial, dismissive-as-heck response to the very public, very negative reaction to her decision to play Gill. (In case you don’t remember, she said, via her rep: “Tell them they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.” Not great!)

    Credit where it’s due, though: shoutouts to celebs who acknowledge their mistakes when people call them out, and good on ScarJo for doing the right thing — even if it may have been under public duress.