Business Insider has removed an opinion piece defending the controversial casting of Scarlett Johansson as a transgender man in an upcoming film.
Johansson will star as Dante “Tex” Gill in Rub & Tug. Gill, a trans male, became famous in the 1970s for operating massage parlors that provided prostitution services. Gill was eventually sent to prison for tax evasion.
Business Insider deleted an article by conservative columnist Daniella Greenbaum titled “Scarlett Johansson is being unfairly criticized for doing her job in being cast as a transgender man” after it was published last week. In the article, which supported Johansson’s casting, Greenbaum called her a victim of the “social-justice warrior mob.”
“Scarlett Johansson is the latest target of the social-justice warrior mob. The actress is being chastised, well, for acting,” the article said. “She has been cast in a movie in which she will play someone different than herself. For this great crime — which seems to essentially define the career path she has chosen — she is being castigated for being insufficiently sensitive to the transgender community.”
The article also criticized transgender actors who have have spoken out against Hollywood choosing to cast cisgender actors as transgender characters.
“What they fail to acknowledge is that the job of an actor is to represent someone else,” the article said. “Johansson’s identity off the screen is irrelevant to the identities she plays on the screen. That’s what she’s paid for.”
Mario Ruiz, senior vice president of communications at Business Insider, told Pink News that the article was removed “because, upon further review, we decided it did not meet our editorial standards.”
In addition, Daily Beast obtained an internal email from Business Insider’s global editor-in-chief Nich Carlson which said that “culturally sensitive columns, analysis, and opinion pieces” would now be reviewed by executive editors prior to publication.
Johansson’s casting in Rub & Tug drew significant criticism from the trans community, with her official response to the controversy doing little to help. In a statement to Bustle, Johansson said anyone who took issue with her playing a transgender character can “be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.”
All three actors have previously portrayed transgender characters: Tambor in Amazon’s Transparent, Leto in Dallas Buyers Club, and Huffman in Transamerica.
This is also not the first time that Johansson has drawn criticism for a casting choice — she came under fire after starring in 2017’s Ghost in the Shell, in a role that was canonically Asian in its original anime and manga.