October 28, 2016

Constance Wu Slams Matt Damon’s ‘Great Wall’ for Whitewashing

The ‘Fresh Off the Boat’ actress takes issue with the actors playing the heroes in the China-set action fantasy film, saying it perpetuates ‘racist myth that only a white man can save the world.’

While Matt Damon’s appearance in “The Great Wall” is expected to boost the American-Chinese film, some people say it whitewashes Chinesy history. Taiwanese-American actress Constance Wu is among those who have criticized the movie for featuring white men as the film’s heroes.

“We have to stop perpetuating the racist myth that only a white man can save the world,” she wrote in a letter posted on Twitter on Friday, July 29, a day after a trailer for the movie was released. “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.”

She argued that money couldn’t be blamed for the choice of actors. “Money is the lamest excuse in the history of being human,” she added. “So is blaming the Chinese investors. (POC’s choices can based on unconscious bias too.) Remember it’s not about blaming individuals, which will only lead to soothing their lame ‘b-but I had good intentions! But…money!’ microaggressive excuses.”

The “Fresh Off the Boat” star claimed, “Rather, it’s about pointing out the repeatedly implied racist notion that white people are superior to POC and that POC need salvation from our own color via white strength. When you consistently make movies like this, you ARE saying that.”

“If white actors are forgiven for having a box office failure once in a while, why can’t a POC sometimes have one? And how COOL would it be if you were the movie that took the ‘risk’ to make a POC as your hero, and you sold the (expletive) out of it?! The whole community would be celebrating! If nothing else, you’d get some mad respect (which is WAY more valuable than money) so MAKE that choice,” she wrote.

Legendary and Damon have not responded to Wu’s comments. Recently, “Ghost in the Shell” and “Doctor Strange” were also criticized for erasing Asian characters.

Set in the Northern Song Dynasty, “The Great Wall” follows British warriors who happen upon the hurried construction of the massive wall. As night falls, the warriors realize that the haste in building the wall isn’t just to keep out the Mongols – there is something inhuman and more dangerous.

The action fantasy film marks Chinese director Zhang Yimou’s English-language debut. Tian Jing, Pedro Pascal, Andy Lau and Willem DaFoe are also starring. The movie will open in U.S. theaters on February 17, 2017.

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