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Superstar to Superhuman: Scarlett Johansson, an ‘Ideal’ Embodiment of the Posthuman Female in Science Fiction and Media?

Author:

Abby Lauren Kidd

University of East Anglia, GB
About Abby

Abby Kidd is a PhD candidate in the School of Art, Media, and American Studies at the University of East Anglia where she also completed her MA degree in Film Studies and her BA degree in Film and English Literature. Her current research is concerned with the ways in which fictional and real-world examples of artificial intelligence are communicated to non-specialists across media platforms in contemporary culture, including science fiction film and television, documentaries and popular science books.

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Abstract

From 2013 to 2017, Hollywood actor Scarlett Johansson was the star vehicle in four unrelated science fiction films that saw her portray a posthuman female enabled by artificially intelligent technology. As such technologies become ever more ubiquitous in the world, so too are the burgeoning discourses around posthumanism and artificial intelligence, which are predominantly disseminated to non-specialists through science fiction and journalistic media. These discourses hold the power to influence our perceptions of incoming technological advancements. Therefore, it is important to gain an interdisciplinary understanding of these discourses and their intersections in order to contribute to the cultivation of a general population that is technologically literate and empowered, as well as foster productive dialogues between specialists from within and across the sciences and humanities fields. The media’s configuration of Scarlett Johansson as an ‘exceptional’ woman, often by drawing upon the lexicon of science fiction, has initiated underlying connections between the actor and posthuman figures within the genre, contributing to her perceived suitability for such roles. Despite appearing to be the ‘ideal’ candidate for posthuman female roles, Johansson’s repeated casting poses several problematic implications, particularly when taken into consideration through a feminist lens. Not only does it contribute to an agenda that establishes improbable conceptions of how artificial, posthuman entities should look and behave, but it also perpetuates retrograde notions of gender roles.

How to Cite: Kidd, A.L., 2021. Superstar to Superhuman: Scarlett Johansson, an ‘Ideal’ Embodiment of the Posthuman Female in Science Fiction and Media?. JOMEC Journal, (16), pp.52–75. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18573/jomec.209
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Published on 01 Jun 2021.
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