‘The Great Wall’ Whitewashing? Matt Damon Responds To Public Backlash

The Great Wall‘s “whitewashing” accusations have come to light recently, uncovering yet another problem Hollywood doesn’t seem to be stopping. The movie’s lead actor Matt Damon is set to star in a film about China’s greatest architectural achievement, and the public is outraged that the role wasn’t given to an actual Chinese actor.

Hollywood has been doing things like that for decades. The Breakfast Club had Mickey Rooney play a stereotypical Asian landlord, and James Bond was barely “turned Japanese” in You Only Live Twice. Even older instances include the pre-color era when white men in “black-face” were used to portray African Americans, though at the time it was because producers didn’t let black actors play major roles. Gods of Egypt did the same thing, replacing a culture of mostly people of color with white heroes.

The film industry has come a long way, though we still get stereotypical acting and appearances in Michael Bay’s Transformers films. Illiterate and rowdy robots used obvious “black” acting in Revenge of the Fallen. Even George Lucas showed a degree of the same with Star Wars Episode One, which eventually spawned an angry fan base who now disown the prequel trilogy.

The Great Wall seems to be “whitewashing” as well, according to fans who have seen the initial teaser. According to Cinema Blend, Matt Damon has denied these accusations and told fans not to judge films so early. He says all we’ve seen is a teaser, and fans are already slamming it.

“When you look at it from a marketing perspective. What’s a worst wipe out for a marketing team than to have that happen as a backlash against a teaser? I thought of it from their perspective. They’re trying to establish a number of things in 30 seconds, or whatever amount of time they had. It’s not a full length trailer, it’s a teaser. And they’re trying to tease a) the monster, and they’re trying to say, ‘Hey look, it’s a visionary filmmaker that you probably don’t know,’ they’re trying to speak to a bigger audience. It’s the Steven Spielberg of China. ‘Don’t worry they speak English in this movie.’ You hear my voice. ‘Don’t worry Matt’s in the movie, you’ve seen this guy before.’ They’re trying to establish all these things. ‘And, by the way, there are monsters.’ All in 30 seconds. So, there’s a lot that they’re trying to hype.”

This actually happens a lot as well. Many who watch teasers like that of The Great Wall think they can judge the entire movie based on maybe 30 seconds of footage, and just scream “whitewashing.” The average movie is much longer than that, usually at the two to three-hour mark.

Sometimes trailers can be misleading as well, so The Great Wall‘s “whitewashing” accusations might not even be accurate. You might remember Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, which had an amazing trailer, and the movie itself turned out to be among the worst ever made. The same thing happened with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

For all we know from The Great Wall‘s teaser, the “whitewashing” accusations might be completely unfounded. Matt Damon might play a much smaller role instead of the “white hero,” and he shares the screen with Jing Tian and Andy Lau. From the way costar Pedro Pascal describes The Great Wall, according to Coming Soon, it’s more like a Pacific Rim or Godzilla kind of movie, meant to sell popcorn and not be Oscar-worthy. It’s historical fiction with monsters, like if the U.S. Civil War had been fought with the help of Martians.

Do you think Matt Damon is right, and the Great Wall “whitewashing” accusations are entirely speculated nonsense?

[Feature Image via Universal Pictures]