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People Are Outraged That Matt Damon Is Starring In A Movie About The Great Wall Of China


Yesterday, the trailer for The Great Wall was released. The fantasy film is about monsters trying to breach the Great Wall of China one thousand years ago and it stars Matt Damon.

Look, Matt Damon, I'll forgive you for a lot but this is going too far.

People are upset because casting Damon as the lead of a what should be a Chinese story is another case of Hollywood whitewashing characters who should be played by people of color.

Um...This is what I call #whitewashing at its finest. Seriously? #TheGreatWall #mattdamon

It’s an issue that’s recently come up specifically with Asian and Asian-American characters, like Scarlett Johansson starring in the adaptation of the Japanese manga Ghost in the Shell and Tilda Swinton playing the Ancient One in Doctor Strange.

Constance Wu, star of Fresh Off The Boat who has spoken about whitewashing before, tweeted this in response:

Can we all at least agree that hero-bias & "but it's really hard to finance" are no longer excuses for racism? TRY

Some expressed confusion as to why a white man would be cast as the lead in a movie about the Great Wall of China.

@ReignOfApril WAIT. Matt Damon is starring in a movie about the Wall of China?! As in in non-white!?

So they did a movie about building The Great Wall of China with MATT DAMON as the leading role

At what point do you think the people who made The Great Wall going to realize casting Matt Damon as a lead was a mistake? #Whitewashing

Others pointed out the ridiculousness of the casting.

Found another preview shot of The Great Wall starring Matt Damon @angryasianman - he was in Qin's army all along

...why would white men need to be in a movie about the Great Wall, even if it's a monster movie?

Matt Damon as the lead for a movie about the Great Wall of China. Whiteness is a delusion.

Some even used the film's tagline to criticize the whitewashing.

"What were they keeping out?" Apparently Chinese people? 🙄

What were they trying to keep out u say? Probs the fallacy that wypipo had anything to do w our self built empires.

And others used Damon's own words from Project Greenlight against him.

“When we’re talking about diversity you do it in the casting of the film not in the casting of the show.”

When asked about how Chinese elements will be included in the film in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, director Zhang Yimou said: “This is a Hollywood monster movie and needs to be made in that style… What I really want is to bring Chinese color and cultural background to the worldwide audience through a film language that they are familiar with."

Matt Damon declined to comment on the “Great Wall” casting backlash to BuzzFeed News. The Great Wall is set to be released on February 17, 2017 by Universal Pictures.

UPDATE — On Thursday, Aug. 4, Zhang addressed the accusations of whitewashing. "The Great Wall is the opposite of what is being suggested," he told Entertainment Weekly. The full statement is below.

"In many ways The Great Wall is the opposite of what is being suggested. For the first time, a film deeply rooted in Chinese culture, with one of the largest Chinese casts ever assembled, is being made at tent pole scale for a world audience. I believe that is a trend that should be embraced by our industry. Our film is not about the construction of the Great Wall. Matt Damon is not playing a role that was originally conceived for a Chinese actor. The arrival of his character in our story is an important plot point. There are five major heroes in our story and he is one of them — the other four are all Chinese. The collective struggle and sacrifice of these heroes are the emotional heart of our film. As the director of over 20 Chinese language films and the Beijing Olympics, I have not and will not cast a film in a way that was untrue to my artistic vision. I hope when everyone sees the film and is armed with the facts they will agree."