Film

Constance Wu Trashes ‘The Great Wall’, Says Her Heroes “Don’t Look Like Matt Damon”

Wu argues that the film can't justify casting Damon just for box office reasons.

Last week, the trailer for The Great Wall of China was released and was immediately met with a resounding “huh?” It wasn’t just that the film’s premise contends that the Great Wall was built to keep out the dragons, but that its star — and apparent architect of the dragon-slaying plan — is Matt Damon, a white bloke from Massachusetts.

Over the weekend, Constance Wu from Fresh Off the Boat angrily condemned the film as another example of the “hero-bias” of Hollywood that places white men in starring roles in stories about people of colour. She argued that this film was “perpetrating the myth that only a white man can save the world” when in fact, “our heroes don’t look like Matt Damon”.

The note also dismissed the idea that casting decisions such as these were just an attempt to placate investors who believe that white stars will bring in more box office dollars than actors of colour (even though we know that this is not always the case). “Think only a huge movie star can sell a movie? This has NEVER been a guarantee,” Wu writes. “If white actors are forgiven for having a box office failure once in a while, why can’t a POC sometimes have one?”

The ‘white saviour’ has been a film trope for a very long time, usually involving a white American imparting wisdom on a non-white community. Wu argues that casting Matt Damon reinforces the “repeatedly implied racist notion that white people are superior to POC and that POC need salvation from our own colour via white strength”.

“We don’t need you to save us from anything.”