Plenty of big names started coming up when the issue with Hollywood’s whitewashing was brought to notice. From Scarlett Johansson to Jake Gyllenhaal and even Angelina Jolie, many names appeared on the list of celebrities who took on roles that were originally written for minorities or different ethnicities. Following the 2016 Chinese monster film The Great Wall, even Matt Damon was accused of whitewashing.
After watching Zhang Yimou’s The Great Wall, it is hard to fathom why Matt Damon was given such a prominent role in the Chinese army. Even Constance Wu reported the issue with a screenshot on Twitter, mentioning Hollywood’s whitewashing. Facing criticisms, despite the $335M Box office hit, Damon defended against the accusations during his interviews.
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Matt Damon Accused Of Whitewashing
Zhang Yimou, a prominent Chinese Fifth Generation filmmaker, claimed international fame with his Raise the Red Lantern. He further transitioned into big-budget movies like The Flowers of War, and then The Great Wall. However, often selecting white people for his movies, Yimou faced immense criticism in the wake of whitewashing in Hollywood.
Yimou’s 2016 epic monster movie, The Great Wall, despite earning $335M at the box office, faced deadly criticism for starring Matt Damon, with a prominent role in the Chinese army. Accusing the actor of whitewashing, Constance Wu took the issue to Twitter, sharing a screenshot, stating,
“We have to stop perpetuating the racist myth that a only white man can save the world. It’s not based in actual fact. Our heroes don’t look like Matt Damon.”
“Think only a huge movie star can sell a movie? That that has NEVER been a total guarantee. Why not TRY to be better? If white actors are forgiven for having a box office failure once in a while, why can’t a POC sometimes have one?” Constance Wu tweeted.
Slamming the actor and the filmmakers on her post, Wu brought the issue to people’s notice. Further, witnessing such brutal accusations, Matt Damon took the initiative to address them during an interview.
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Matt Damon Defends Against Accusations
Hitting back at the accusations for participating in Hollywood’s “whitewashing” through his 2016 Chinese monster film The Great Wall, Matt Damon spoke with the Associated Press. Discussing his involvement in the large-scale Hollywood-Chinese co-produced historical epic film, Damon promoted his film in Beijing.
Following the release of The Great Wall trailer in July 2016, much criticism was directed towards Matt Damon for being the lead instead of a Chinese actor. He discussed the issue during his interview, saying,
“The whole idea of whitewashing, I take that very seriously … it’s a monster movie and it’s a historical fantasy and I didn’t take a role away from a Chinese actor. It wasn’t altered because of me in any way.”
Personally blaming it on the era of clickbait and fake news, Matt Damon stated that the whole idea of whitewashing became a disproportionate outrage.
“It suddenly becomes a story because people click on it, versus the traditional ways that a story would get vetted before it would get to that point … eventually you stop clicking on some of those more outrageous things because you just realize there is nothing to the story when you get to it.”
Even the director supported Damon throughout the interview and mentioned adding Chinese aspects to the film over the course of seven years. Zhang Yimou stated,
“Although it was developed for commercial purposes, I felt there was room for me to play and put many elements of Chinese culture into it.”
Watch the 2016 mystical epic, The Great Wall on Netflix and Amazon Prime.