Constance Wu on 'The Great Wall': "Our Heroes Don't Look Like Matt Damon"
Constance Wu has a simple, direct response to the upcoming Matt Damon thriller The Great Wall: "We have to stop perpetuating the racist myth that only a white man can save the world."
The Taiwanese-American actress, known for her role as Jessica Huang on ABC's Fresh Off the Boat, took to Twitter to share her thoughts on the sci-fi co-production between Legendary Entertainment and Chinese companies Le Vision Pictues and China Film Group, which features Damon and Willem Dafoe joining a number of big-name actors from Hong Kong, mainland China and Taiwan to battle an ancient Chinese monster.
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"Our heroes don't look like Matt Damon. They look like Malala. Ghandi. Mandela," she wrote.
Objecting to Damon's presence in the movie, Wu wrote, "It's about pointing out the repeatedly implied racist notion that white people are superior to POC and that POC need salvation from our own color via white strength. When you consistently make movies like this, you are saying that ... Whether you intend to or not."
She rejected traditional explanations for the inclusion of white big-name stars in movies such as The Great Wall, writing, "Think only a huge movie star can sell a movie? That has never been a total guarantee. Why not try to be better?" and "Money is the lamest excuse in the history of being human. So is blaming the Chinese investors."
Instead, she argued, "How cool would it be if you were the movie that took the 'risk' to make a POC as your hero, and you sold the shit out of it?! The whole community would be celebrating!! If nothing else, you'd get some mad respect (which is way more valuable than money). So make that choice."
Hollywood's lack of diversity has become an increasingly discussed topic in recent months, whether it's the #OscarsSoWhite controversy or blockbusters whitewashing characters for "mainstream" consumption. While The Great Wall, directed by Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou, may be more diverse than many similar projects, Damon's presence as the face of the movie shows that there is still a long, long way to go.
"I know there are lotsa POC who honestly don't care," Wu wrote at the end of her statement. "Well excuse me for caring about the images that little girls see, and what that implies to them about their limitations of possibilities. If you were a kid, you should care too. Because we were those kids … Hollywood is supposed to be about making great stories. So make them."
The full statement is below. The Great Wall will be released in the U.S. by Universal Pictures on Feb. 17, 2017, two months after the movie's Chinese debut.
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
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