Constance Wu, the star of ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat, went on a bit of a Twitter rant on Friday after the first trailer for The Great Wall starring Matt Damon was released. Wu posted a rather long post about Hollywood’s hero-bias, and expressed her disappointment that the Legendary and Universal Pictures film didn’t cast an Asian as the hero, reports Variety.
“We have to stop perpetuating the racist myth that only a white man can save the world. 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 used her Twitter tirade to knock down some of the myths behind the excuses Hollywood uses to justify casting Caucasians in roles that should go to people of color, such as white actors generating more revenue because they are more appealing than people of color.
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
The Great Wall is the first movie project coming from Legendary Entertainment’s Legendary East project, and judging from the trailer, the fantasy adventure will be epic and visually stunning, and lacking authenticity, according to the Taiwanese-American actress.
Constance Wu and other members of the Asian community are frustrated that a Hollywood blockbuster made with Chinese money still points to the “racist notion that white people are superior to people of color and that POC need salvation from our own color via white strength,” which is what she feels happened when Matt Damon was cast as the hero in a movie set in China and directed by Zhang Yimou, a famous Chinese director.
In addition to Damon, The Great Wall also stars Willem Dafoe, Pedro Pascal, Andy Lau, Zhang Hanyu, and Eddie Peng. The film is about the mystery behind why the Great Wall of China was actually built, and the elite group of warriors tasked with keeping the reason at bay.
Constance Wu isn’t the only Asian-American that complained once the first trailer for The Great Wall was dropped. The blog Angry Asian Man sarcastically described the plot for the “most expensive Chinese movie of all time,” as “ridiculous,” and questions how moviegoers are supposed to accept that 1,000-years ago, the wondrous Great Wall of China — that is 5,500 miles long and took 1,700 years to build — could only be successfully protected by a Caucasian.
“You can set a story anywhere in the world, in any era of history, and Hollywood will still somehow find a way for the movie to star a white guy.”
George Takei had the same response when it was announced that Tilda Swinton would play The Ancient One in Marvel’s upcoming Doctor Strange film. According to The Advocate, Takei blasted the “cringeworthy” casting of a white woman to play the traditionally Tibetan character (changed to Celtic for the movie) as Marvel’s belief that “white audiences want to see white faces,” and the Star Trek actor isn’t buying Marvel’s excuse that Swinton’s casting was designed to avoid conflict with the Chinese market.
“You cast a white actress so you wouldn’t hurt sales …in Asia? This backpedaling is nearly as cringeworthy as the casting. Marvel must think we’re all idiots.”
The Great Wall is directed by Zhang Yimou and cost $135 million to make. It was originally set to be released just before Thanksgiving, but was rescheduled for release Feb. 17, 2017.
How do you feel about the casting choice for The Great Wall — a movie made in China, directed by a Chinese director, and made with Chinese money — but featuring Matt Damon instead of an Asian actor as the star? Sound off in the comment section.
[Photo by Jordan Strauss/AP Images]