photo: Paramount

The 2017 "Ghost in the Shell" movie, based on an incredibly popular Japanese franchise of the same name, is already in hot water for casting a white actress, Scarlett Johansson, as the central character. 

But if the teasers that were released Wednesday night (September 21) during "Mr. Robot" are any indication, just because Paramount and DreamWorks changed the race of the main character doesn't mean that they aren't capitalizing on the series' Japanese roots — and that makes the whitewashing even worse. 

The first glitchy teaser showed us footage of a what appears to be a robotic geisha.

Her face and hair appear to be synthetic (perhaps its a mask?), and save for the design at the nape of her neck, her "makeup" is nothing like what a traditional geisha would wear — although this is set in the future and her design incorporates a lot of non-traditional materials so perhaps its not meant to be authentic. Still, the inclusion of a nameless, voiceless Asian woman in “exotic” clothing isn’t exactly a great victory for representation in film when you’ve got a white hero as the lead.

Then we meet Scarlett Johhanson's character, whose name is still unclear.

In the promotional materials so far they're calling her the Major, but that's just a title — the character's name is supposed to be Motoko Kusanagi. So are they going to Westernize it or just not give her a name? (Can we petition to start calling her Not-oko because it's punny and it makes me laugh?)

Then Not-oko meets another woman who doesn't know who (or what) she's supposed to be either.

Nice to see they're leaving in a little bit homosexual subtext leftover from the manga, at least (warning, that link is extremely NSFW).

Then we meet Takeshi Kitano, who basically plays her boss.

The character's name is Daisuke Aramaki, and he's the chief of Public Security Sector 9, the search and rescue organization that Motoko works for. He also doesn't really tend to get his hands dirty in other adaptations, so some "Ghost In The Shell" fans are already freaking out about what his gun here could mean. 

And then The Major finds a squad of robot Hare Krishnas.

It's difficult to tell from this clip, but it does seem like more than a few of these men are also Asian, making this yet another scene where Asian actors are treated like props and aesthetic signifiers for a white actor to perform against.

Admittedly this footage captures the cool cyberpunk-Asian design that's integral to a "Ghost In The Shell." But by casting a white woman in its central role, the film has already crippled itself in the eyes of many western "Ghost In The Shell" fans.

Scarlett Johansson is a fantastic performer and will undoubtedly do a great job portraying the Major. But as many Asian-American critics have pointed out, even the best, most respectful movie that's set in Asia with a white lead will still indirectly imply that Asian people are background characters in their own stories, if only because of how common it is.

Over in Japan, the reaction is admittedly little more complicated. Because the country has its own animation and live-action film industries and Japanese people aren't exactly a minority (although the country does have its own issues with ethnic minorities and representation), fans there aren't quite as outraged by the idea that the first ever live-action "Ghost In The Shell" movie features a white Major.

But the fact remains that regardless of whether or not Johansson's casting bothers you on an individual level, Hollywood has a clear problem with casting Asian performers as leads in movies — and like it or not, "Ghost In The Shell" has become the embodiment of this inequality.