Matt Damon has said that accusations of ‘whitewashing’ in his new movie ‘The Great Wall’ is entirely down to clickbait.
Damon stars in the Anglo-Chinese monster epic, due out next year, as part of an army taking a stand on the Great Wall of China, battling an ancient monster.
It also stars Jing Tian, Pedro Pascal, Willem Dafoe and Andy Lau, but it’s been accused of exploiting the ‘white saviour narrative’, in which a white hero rescues people of colour from peril.
“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,” Damon told the Associated Press.
“Eventually you stop clicking on some of those more outrageous things because you just realise there is nothing to the story when you get to it.”
Actress Constance Wu, star of sitcom ‘Fresh Off The Boat’, has been among those criticising the movie.
“We have to stop perpetuating the racist myth [that only] a white man can save the world. It’s not based in actual fact. Our heroes don’t look like Matt Damon,” she wrote on Twitter.
However, Damon added: “That whole idea of whitewashing, I take that very seriously,” using the example of the Irish-American actor Chuck Connors, who played the lead in 1962 movie ‘Geronimo’, about the Apache chief.
“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.”
Director Zhang Yimou, director of ‘House of Flying Daggers’ and ‘Hero’, has also felt cause to defend his own movie.
“In many ways ‘The Great Wall’ is the opposite of what is being suggested,” he said.
“For the first time, a film deeply rooted in Chinese culture, with one of the largest Chinese casts ever assembled, is being made at tentpole scale for a world audience. I believe that is a trend that should be embraced by our industry.”
The film is due out in the UK on February 17, 2017.
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