- The Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA) group condemned the movie’s “whitewashing” of Johansson’s character Motoko Kusanagi in a statement released on Friday.
- The organization criticized Johansson’s recent interview on “Good Morning America,” in which the actress said she “would never attempt to play a person of a different race, obviously.” and accused her of lying.
- The group also criticized the casting of Michael Pitt who played the role of Kuze in the movie, which MANAA said “is revealed to have originally been named Hideo, meaning he too was Japanese."
- "Apparently, in Hollywood, Japanese people can’t play Japanese people anymore,” MANAA President Robert Chan said. “There’s no reason why either Motoku or Hideo could not have been portrayed by Japanese or Asian actors instead of Scarlett Johansson and Michael Pitt. We don’t even get to see what they looked like in their original human identities — a further white-wash.”
- Founding President of MANAA, Guy Aoki, adds that, "Hollywood continues to make the same excuses, that there aren’t big enough Asian/Asian American names to open a blockbuster film. Yet it has not developed a farm system where such actors get even third billing in most pictures. Without a conscientious effort, how will anyone ever break through and become familiar enough with audiences so producers will confidently allow them to topline a film? When will we ever break that glass ceiling?”