From The Washington Post:
“Now, what about that movie about the Great Wall of China starring everyone’s favorite Chinese actor, Matt Damon?”
It was just one of a slew of comments on social media in the last few weeks lampooning a huge action movie that is scheduled to hit theaters later this year or early next. “The Great Wall,” a co-production between China and Hollywood, is the most expensive film ever shot entirely in China, costing more than $150 million. The movie features Matt Damon, Willem Dafoe and a slate of popular Chinese actors using the Great Wall to defend humanity from a monster attack.
But since the film’s trailer was released, journalists and commentators on social media have criticized it for “whitewashing” – replacing roles that could or should be cast with actors of color with white actors. What is Matt Damon doing saving ancient China, anyway? Couldn’t the Chinese handle that one themselves?
The critics definitely have a point — the film industry has a long and troubling history of minimizing actors of color. Some in the industry boycotted the 2016 Oscars, after only white actors and actresses were chosen for the top four categories for the second year in a row. And movies including “Dr. Strange,” “Ghost in the Shell” and ”Aloha” have all recently been criticized for casting white actresses in originally Asian roles, just the latest episode in a long history of whitewashing in Hollywood.
Yet there’s also an irony that many have missed. Despite Matt Damon’s prominent appearance, the nuts and bolts of “The Great Wall” are more Chinese than perhaps any major co-production between the U.S. and China has been before. Within China, the movie is being hailed as the first of its kind to be made by a major Chinese director, backed by a Chinese-owned Hollywood studio and featuring Chinese historical themes. …