You are viewing a read-only archive of the Blogs.Harvard network. Learn more.

Scarlett Johannson’s Ass

I’ve collected the posts from my Lost In Translation obsession and pasted them here:


I’m very late on the scene, having just seen this movie today. And my opinion is evenly split between HATING it and LOVING it. What I loved:

1) Scarlett Johansson has belly rolls and cellulite and we see it

2) Bill Murray

3) The film’s small focus

4) Bill Murray

5) The scene where Bill Murray walks into the hotel and is immediately greeted with a fax from his wife sayng “You forgot Andrew’s birthday. I’m sure he’ll understand.” Fucking brilliant.

6) Bill Murray

7) Very good screenplay

8) Very fine images

What I hated:

1) Whitey in Japan thinks whitey’s ways are right, Japan’s ways are crayzeee..come on people, there are ways to register difference, even radical difference, with more respect. Buffooning the Japanese in their own country is ignorant and prissy rich-white-egomania. Watch Sans Soleil to see how it’s done right.

2) Opening shot of Scarlett Johansson’s ass in see-through panties. What the fuck?

3) Rich bored people who have so much but don’t know what to do with it. If you want me to feel for them you can’t have them walk around feeling superior all the time. “I’m a rich bored princess who doesn’t have anyone treating me like a magical enigma anymore, I’m so sad. I want daddy.” Women are not magic, not enigmas. Magic and mystery can’t be sustained in a human being, and the stereotype keeps men wanting the ephemeral, the thing that DOES NOT EXIST.

4) The cruel portrayal of the lounge singer. Couldn’t you have given her just one small gesture, a look, to give her some humanity, some sympathy? Does everyone but you and the one guy you approve of have to be portrayed as a laughable loser? Do you have any respect for humanity? For your own goddamned characters? Heartless.

But I have to say that just as I predicted, Sofia Coppola is indeed proving to be an auteur, dealing with the same strains in each of her films. Pro-magic, pro-mystery, that’s her thing. We don’t hear what Bill Murray whispers to her in the end. Mystery. She sings “I’m special,” at karaoke. The sex club is garish–too much information, no mystery. Japan is buffooned but also made attractively mysterious, and she never wants to go back again–because it’ll never be so mysterious again. Familiarity ruins the mystique. Bill Murray’s wifey is obsessed with real-world details–carpets, cabinets, kids, birthdays–and therefore there is no mystery. (It was all the same in Virgin Suicides, the girls were mysteries even to themselves, and jesus fucking christ did that piss me off. Attempt some understanding, fuckers. Don’t preserve women in some fucking mysterious glass case. Especially if you’re a woman directing the goddamn movie.)

So I personally HATE this line of thinking, but while I hate her auteurial obessions, she at least has them. She is an artist, and this is an artful film.

I could go on, but I’m tired.

Bill Murray for president.


This is an academic exploration of Scarlett Johansson’s ass. Do not view it as salacious material. Do not! Stop it! Scroll down to see the argument.

The ass shot that opens Lost in Translation. My first reaction: groan of disgust. Why is this necessary. Why would a female director start her film this way. What does this have to do with anything. Why do I suddenly want to *shake* Sofia Coppola.

But now I think it may be beautiful. The film is very much about a girl having trouble growing up. She is a girl in a woman’s body. Her panties are little-girly-pink, yet see-through. Childlike and adult, at once. It’s not a thong. We see that she’s wearing a sweater. Not naked, not just a bra, but a sweater. And she stirs, moving one of her legs. A woman resting, not a woman displaying herself for you. Her back is turned to you. She is thinking, she is in her world, she is not for you.

So the shot is appropriate. It fits. The friend I saw the movie with didn’t like the choice of actress, she said she was too young, that she couldn’t nail the part, she didn’t have the complexity. That a 19-year-old playing a 25-year-old was a bad move. You usually go the other direction in casting. Get a 28-year-old to play a 25-year-old. But the point here is that this girl is in some way still stuck being a little girl. An older actress would bring maturity, but the role does not want maturity. Maturity would ruin it.

And this leads into the daddyism. Bill Murray is not just a charismatic guy, he’s a daddy figure. A guy who treats her like his little girl. Makes a big deal out of the boo-boo on her foot, takes her to the hospital. Grabs the menu and orders for her when she can’t figure out the sushi menu. Gives her life advice.

This is a movie written by a daddy’s girl. Not surprising that in an interview Sofia Coppola said that her father starred in a Santori whiskey ad in Japan.

Je’ points out that this person’s images were inspiration for the ass shot that opens Lost in Translation. I could rationalize Sofia’s use, but not his. His seem like pure posed-for-male-pleasure cheesecake. That ass is jutting out and on display and wearing a baby-doll negligee. And if Coppola admits that his work was the inspiration, it beefs up all the reasons I’m uncomfortable with her depiction of women in her films. That she had to convince Scarlet to do the shot makes it even worse. She’s treading a very, very fine line here.

16 Responses to “Scarlett Johannson’s Ass”

  1. rahul
    June 7th, 2006 | 6:18 am


    came across this blog entry of yours from the past. whilst your arguments on scarlet’s ass and the message it potrays in the opening scene are interesting. my question is… did all of that cross your mind in the five seconds that the camera pans across the room? pleasee dont get this worng.. the message is the difference in the way you analysed it ultimately.. you looked behind the image to see whay it conveys… the average male in the world who saw the movie is sitting and thinking scarlet has an ‘awesome ass’… crazy…unexplainable..

  2. June 7th, 2006 | 8:30 am

    no, all that crossed my mind in those first five seconds is “why the fuck is a female director showing me a huge image of a woman’s ass? why is she behaving like a male director? she’s a smart woman, she should know better. i want to punch her.”

    but because she’s a smart woman that’s why i was willing to mull it over and look deeper.

  3. Mike
    June 24th, 2006 | 8:42 pm

    Scarlett was a baby when they filmed lost in translation. A good personal trainer could wipe away the rolls and the cellulite within a few months. Besides her unflattering bottom, the girl has a great set of breasts, and a beautiful face (when made up). She looked great in Match Point and The Island. I think Scarlett is a project. As she gets older, she will get more beautiful with each passing year.

  4. Mike
    June 24th, 2006 | 8:44 pm

    I also have to say, Sofia Coppola was absolutely horrendous in Godfather III. That was a movie, that should not have been made.

  5. B.
    July 26th, 2006 | 1:50 am

    Interesting blog, but what is with that comment Mike? I mean ” Besides her unflattering bottom, the girl has a great set of breasts, and a beautiful face (when made up)” Glad to see that woman aren’t just jigsaws of human parts to you, how’s your ass looking by the way?

  6. tyler
    July 14th, 2007 | 11:55 am

    NICE ASS !!

  7. July 10th, 2008 | 4:20 pm

    […] has her own reasons for hating Scarlett Johansson, and the characters she represents: “‘I’m a rich bored princess who doesn’t have […]

  8. Me
    July 5th, 2009 | 11:32 pm

    I think on the first point that you hate the movie for, I think you might be missing out on the general theme of the movie.

    The title of the movie is “Lost in Translation”. The whole movie is spent showing you the difference in culture that we can’t really understand because it is “lost”. Beginning with the film shoot at the beginning, the whole film is about the awkwardness of arriving in a new country where EVERYTHING is different. (like the TV show bit) Also, take for instance the arcade scene, where everyone was playing those rhythmic musical games. She smiled, and if you had the same thought as me, she saw SOME familiarity, she knew what was going on for once. And the scene where Bill Murray was waiting in the hospital, he was the one who looked like a buffoon (notice the two women snickering in the background as he attempted to understand). I wouldn’t call that making fun of them in their own country at all, but to show the uniqueness, the cultural barrier between our two nations. (the scenes where she went out on her own were spent showing more traditional Japanese culture [floral arrangements, the marriage procession, the traditional architecture, and the logs crossing the pond] , whereas the times they both went out it tended to show the more modern Japanese culture [gaming, the bar scene, strip clubs, restaurants])

    And the reason she said “Lets never come back” isn’t because the mystery is gone. Take the context in which she said it. She was having a terrible time and the only thing that cheered her up was Bill’s character, and she knew that if she ever did come back, the likely hood of him being there was slim.

  9. December 14th, 2009 | 6:11 am

    […] Cynthia has her own reasons for hating Scarlett Johansson, and the characters she represents: 1) Whitey in Japan thinks whitey’s ways are right, Japan’s ways are crayzeee… come on people, there are ways to register difference, even radical difference, with more respect. Buffooning the Japanese in their own country is ignorant and prissy rich-white-egomania. Watch Sans Soleil to see how it’s done right. […]

  10. mark
    February 19th, 2010 | 4:16 am

    Interesting. Scarlett Johansson was on Letterman show and I imdb’d her, found out she is married to Ryan Reynolds. I’m happy for them. I think Bill Murray dissed her on the set of Lost in Translation, but I can’t find a link on the web about it. As I recall, the movie was indeed anti-Japanese and very white-Euro-ethnocentric. The characters aren’t even interested in knowing about their host country or celebrating it. That’s not just an intellectual error/taboo, but a serious cinematic faux paux. But since movies increasingly do that, as in Borat, I don’t look to movies anymore for genuine anthropological work. Scarlett sure has gotten around! Great ass. The ass shot probably just points to an attempt to make her character the slutty traveling tramp type, I guess. In Japan, I hear they treat blondes very deferentially, almost like another species to be honored. The clip also seems to say “Not only is she beautiful, but she’s slutty too.”

  11. Soran
    September 8th, 2011 | 3:41 am

    I love u

  12. carl
    September 25th, 2011 | 12:53 pm

    the strip club in japan was gratuitious nudity, but the movie is also about the eurocentric culture changing japanese culture, ex, the pornography on the train etc, seems to go hand in hand with the overall eruocentric and misognystic feeling the film has; in the end, scarlett saves the film both from it being a film that exploits japan or puts the handcuffs of misogyny on women. There are many scenes in which she appreciates the Japanese culture. Charlotte may find comfort with bob, but the comfort is merely a cold insight into the tough decisions she will have to make as she is informed of the intriguing world of powerful men. Literally, each step of the way, the movie captures many of the scenes of Charlotte’s journey to her heart with artistry. In the end, we don’t know which way she will go with her heart, we do know what she won’t be doing with it though.

  13. carl
    September 25th, 2011 | 1:00 pm

    my only complaint is they should’ve had a japanese guy singing are you going to scrarbourough hill in the cocktail lounge.

  14. erik kellerup
    January 10th, 2012 | 6:29 am

    as this is a site about LOST IN TRANSLATION, i cant get away with accusing some of you of being hypercritical. i would guess, though, that the people most upset about the opening scene have deeper issues. i loved the film, know that the US and JAPAN are two different places, and hope that i can someday go there.

  15. April 30th, 2012 | 2:00 am

    […] Quanto è scarsa Scarlett? Sarà per questo motivo che la riprendono il 90% delle volte a favore di culo? Ed è questo il motivo per cui il film è stato poi postprodotto in 3D? Esiste qualcuno al mondo […]

  16. December 9th, 2014 | 7:36 pm

    Then I hope her inspirations have her walking the fine-line edge much more in the future. It was a charming, sweet, and quirky little film!Kim P.

Leave a reply