It is hard to imagine a scenario where it isn’t good to be Matt Damon. He is about to be back on top of the box office as Jason Bourne after a decade away from the franchise, and he has a new, big blockbuster movie coming out next year called The Great Wall, but that might be a problem. The trailer for that movie just dropped, and unfortunately for Damon, it is already getting some serious backlash.
In the movie, Matt Damon is in China during the construction of The Great Wall, and even though his character isn’t meant to be Asian, he is a white man who is brought in to save the people there. Fresh Off The Boat actress Constance Wu took to her Twitter account to voice her distaste for the decision that was made for The Great Wall. Her response was very lengthy, but here is a highlight to give you an idea of how she feels about it.
“We have to stop perpetuating the racist myth that only a white man can save the world. It’s not based in actual fact. Our heroes don’t look like Matt Damon. They look like Malala. (Gandhi). Mandela. Your big sister when she stood up for you to those bullies that one time.”
Wu makes a fair point, but Hollywood is about making money, and that often leads to very unpopular, and perhaps insensitive decisions. Casting Damon in the movie, who is a very bankable star, will help to bring in dollars at the box office, so that is largely why a studio would put him in something like The Great Wall. But Wu didn’t feel that justifies anything, saying that money is “the lamest excuse” for anything. It is hard to not see where she is coming from. Wu is also on a show that showcases an entirely Asian central cast, which is a complete rarity in Hollywood. Fresh Off The Boat has done very well, so it makes sense that she would be frustrated, given that she is part of an example that proves something can be successful and diverse.
The issue of whitewashing has become a major topic that is getting a lot of light shed on it in recent months, and it is clear that many people, not just Wu are fed up with it. Marvel Studios received a lot of flack for casting Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One in the upcoming Doctor Strange, a role that historically belonged to an Asian man. Another prime example is The Ghost In The Shell movie, which cast Scarlett Johansson in the lead role, which is an Asian woman in the source material. Not only that, but it was revealed that the studio was doing digital effects tests to try and make her look more Asian, which didn’t at all sit well with a lot people when that information came out.
The Great Wall is not at all an attempt at historical accuracy. It is being helmed by Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou, best known for his work on Hero and The House of Flying Daggers. The movie centers on the construction of the historical landmark, but poses that it was built to help protect against very scary lizard monsters, who appear briefly and sparsely in the trailer. Even with that in mind, nobody can blame Constance Wu for her very justifiable negative feelings toward the movie. You can check out her full statement below.
Can we all at least agree that hero-bias & “but it’s really hard to finance” are no longer excuses for racism? TRY pic.twitter.com/mvNet5PrtH
— Constance Wu (@ConstanceWu) July 29, 2016