When the first teaser dropped for #MattDamon's latest action adventure movie, #TheGreatWall, back in August, fans and critics immediately noticed something upsetting. In a story set in China, with a cast made up of mostly Chinese actors, Damon — a white actor — was cast in the lead. Accusations of whitewashing started flying, and Damon claimed he was concerned, but hoped people would realize the role wasn't technically whitewashing (i.e., when a white actor plays a role that was historically a person of color).
If you haven't seen the trailer for The Great Wall, watch it here:
- Everything We Know About Matt Damon Movie 'The Great Wall'
- Disney's 'Mulan' Whitewashing Controversy Highlights A Big Problem With Hollywood
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Now, as the The Great Wall is nearing its Chinese premiere date on December 16, Damon opened up about the scandal again in an interview with Time:
"That whole idea of whitewashing, I take that very seriously."
Next he explained how The Great Wall is not — technically — whitewashing:
"...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."
Then the 46-year-old actor expressed his concerns over social media and the spread of that sneaky pest "fake news," which he blames for perpetuating the controversy:
"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. [People click on catchy headlines, but] 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."
In the year after the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, however, Damon's argument does little to quell the concerns of people who want to see more diversity in Hollywood. Constance Wu, the star of ABC comedy Fresh Off The Boat, criticized The Great Wall not for "whitewashing," but for using the damaging trope of the white savior. You can read Wu's full piece here.
The Great Wall premieres in the USA on February 17, 2017.
What do you think about Matt Damon's response to the controversy?