Matt Damon thinks whitewashing controversies are just fake-news clickbait


Over the summer, there was yet another “whitewashing” controversy, this time involving Matt Damon starring in a film called The Great Wall, a fantasy/sci-fi about the making of the Great Wall of China. Basically, Matt Damon is the “hero” of a film set in China, financed by Chinese money, and directed by a Chinese director. Even if the film isn’t based on actual history (it is not), it’s still problematic as hell to have a white American actor play the lead in a film about The Great Wall of China. Which is the point Constance Wu tried to make when the trailer came out – that we should all be aware of whitewashing, that we – as a society – don’t need the default white heroes, and more. Wu’s criticism was just one part of a larger discussion about whitewashing, which (full disclosure) I agree that we need to keep having these conversations. It’s sad but true. But Matt Damon doesn’t think so. He thinks the whitewashing conversation is just some fake-news clickbait.

“That whole idea of whitewashing, I take that very seriously,” Damon said, using the example of the Irish-American actor Chuck Connors, who played the lead character in the 1962 film “Geronimo,” about the famed Apache chief. Damon, 46, plays an English mercenary in the upcoming $150 million adventure fantasy about a Chinese army battling monsters, helmed by acclaimed Chinese director Zhang Yimou…

Damon questioned whether the critical stories on online news sites based on “a 30-second teaser trailer” would have existed before the era of fake news and headlines designed to make people click on them.

“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,” said the star of the “Bourne” franchise.

People fall for outrageous headlines, but “eventually you stop clicking on some of those more outrageous things because you just realize there is nothing to the story when you get to it,” Damon said. Damon and Zhang told the AP that because of the demands of the story, Damon’s role — a mercenary who comes to China to steal gunpowder — was always intended to be European.

Damon said he thought the criticism over his casting would subside “once people see that 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.”

[From The Associated Press]

A national – and hopefully international – conversation about whitewashing, diversity and the structural inequalities for artists of color in the film industry IS NOT FAKE NEWS. It is not clickbait. It is a much-needed conversation we keep needing to have because scripts continue to be written in which white folks are the heroes and leads of films about China. Because Scarlett Johansson is playing a character named Major Motoko Kusanagi in Ghost in the Shell. Because Emma Stone plays Asian characters now. These are not FAKE NEWS STORIES. Matt Damon saying he wishes criticism of his films would be “vetted” before they become news just sounds like Matty D is throwing around his privilege again, just like he did when he interrupted producer Effie Brown (an African-American woman) to mansplain diversity to her. Let me ask a serious question: has Matty D always had a big blindspot about race?



Photos courtesy of ‘The Great Wall’ and WENN.

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131 Responses to “Matt Damon thinks whitewashing controversies are just fake-news clickbait”

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  1. Nicole says:

    He’s officially on the f**kboy list. Shut. Up. Sir.

  2. minx says:

    Can’t stand him. Very average looks and talent.

  3. juice says:

    oh matty :( .

  4. Loopy says:

    He is clearly in a white privileged entitled bubble.

    • Radley says:

      Yeah, I tend to agree.

      He’s slick as a politician here though. He tried to wrap his controversy up in the fake news problem. It’s not fake news. And he makes the case that his part isn’t whitewashing because it was never intended for a Chinese actor. Ok, fair enough Matt. Let’s shift the conversation to the “white savior complex” Hollywood has and why the heck this movie was even given the greenlight in the first place. Millions upon millions of Chinese people but only the white guy can save them? Why? No wonder he emphasized the fantasy aspect. That’s exactly what it is. A white male fantasy.

      • Fiorella says:

        Zhang yi mou has earned the benefit of the doubt. I don’t watch action movies but his other movies are amazing. I’m probably not interested in this one. Seems like an epic battle type of flick

      • Radley says:


        This isn’t just about the director. But being Chinese doesn’t automatically absolve him of responsibility. That’s like saying Ben Carson being black means that all his horrible opinions on black people are a-ok. That’s not how it works.

        And honestly, this is just a new spin on the I have a *fill in the blank* friend so I can’t be *fill in the blank*. False.

      • Lindsey says:

        No, I pretty sure she is saying the director has made excellent choice in the past that resulted in great movies and for that alone he get the benefit of the doubt. No one has seen the film yet, it doesn’t hurt to keep an open mind because the director has proven himself capable. It would be like asking Ben Carson about pediatric neurosurgery and assuming based on his history he knows what he is talking about.

      • Godwina says:

        I was pretty irked, too (and no, MD, the whitewashing convo is most certainly NOT clickbait or fake news), but Yimou’s statement below has given me some pause. There’s also been some pushback on Twitter among Asians who are peeved that we automatically assume that the white face is the “lead” or “star” or “centre” of a show–another racist default.

        I just don’t know in this case. I wouldn’t say I’m cautiously optimistic, though.

        “In many ways The Great Wall is the opposite of what is being suggested. For the first time, a film deeply rooted in Chinese culture, with one of the largest Chinese casts ever assembled, is being made at tent pole scale for a world audience. I believe that is a trend that should be embraced by our industry. Our film is not about the construction of the Great Wall. Matt Damon is not playing a role that was originally conceived for a Chinese actor. The arrival of his character in our story is an important plot point. There are five major heroes in our story and he is one of them — the other four are all Chinese. The collective struggle and sacrifice of these heroes are the emotional heart of our film. As the director of over 20 Chinese language films and the Beijing Olympics, I have not and will not cast a film in a way that was untrue to my artistic vision. I hope when everyone sees the film and is armed with the facts they will agree.”

    • Jess says:

      Ditto – and he lives there with the Affleck brothers.

      • sanders says:

        Perhaps the Chinese director wanted a famous American actor in order to draw an American and international audience. Chinese people in China have all sorts of media and cultural venues where they see themselves represented. I think they probably find Damon in this role an interesting novelty.

        I think it’s more grating for us in the US and Canada and maybe the UK, where we have multicultural populations and have had anti-racist movements that have included critiques of representation.

        To me, this cross cultural collaboration highlights the differences between diasporic immigrant communities and the ones that stayed put in the country of origin.
        I personally think he sucks when it comes to issues of diversity and white supremacy but then again, I’m one of those diasporics whose life has been deeply affected by racism.

  5. Ramona says:

    Yes please do whitesplain whitewashing some more, Matt. Can the Damon Affleck clan be over already.

    • MrsBPitt says:

      Why bring Ben into this???

      • Ramona says:

        Ben attempted to hide a slave owning ancestor, for God knows why. And Casey is a sex offender who bought his way out of the consequences. So basically, three clueless white men who sold themselves to us enlightened and progressive and it now appears to have been all about PR. They dont believe in equality or addressing past injustices or respecting women, away with all three.

  6. lisa says:

    he’s so ordinary and has no idea how lucky he is

    im glad i never liked him

    • NastyWoman` says:

      I used to love him, now I can’t stand him. Another movie I won’t be seeing.

    • Jellybean says:

      I never really liked him that much either, but as always I like to present alternative arguments. There is clearly a big issue here, but I do think we should be a bit careful about rushing to criticize before a film is out. Not in the case of Emma Stone and Scarlett Johansson, because they are obviously very wrong regardless of the storyline, but if we are not careful film makers will start to avoid making films that offer good roles to minority groups if they face attacks because they have a white star in the lead role. So if you have a film with a large Native American cast and there are some really good parts for Native American actors and the white lead character is not presented as a savior and the whole thing fits together to tell an important or interesting story about Native American culture in today’s society – is that a bad thing or should it be encouraged? If the film does well, maybe next time the film makers will have the funding and confidence to go with a less well known Native American as the lead? It is really hard to get a film made and if they get dragged through the press maybe next time they just won’t bother and instead they will make a film about a bunch of rich kids who become stock brokers.

      • Really? says:

        Why not just hire a minority for a lead role? Lucy Liu doesn’t have to be the sidekick. Michelle Rodriguez has led a couple of successful films. Viola Davis has the acting chops to carry her own film. Will Smith has enough of a following to be the lead. Starring John Cho was started for a reason. He was the main lead for the successful film, “Harold & Kumar” but he isn’t considered for anything else. And since Damon is married to a Latina, you would think he would care just a little bit more about giving representation to faces like his daughter’s but no. But maybe the election taught us that the US isn’t about representation and diversity; it is about blonde hair and blue eyes.

  7. AnotherDirtyMartini says:

    I never could stand Affleck, but I was fond of Damon. Well, that has changed a lot. First the deal w/Effie & now this.

    • Godwina says:

      I was never a fan of his work, but years ago I heard him on CBC speak so eloquently about environmental issues, it was stunning. So he earned a grain of respect. But interrupting a Black woman speaking about diversity just quashed everything. Yup.

  8. RussianBlueCat says:

    The list of performers I used to like, is rapidly becoming longer than the ones I do like.

  9. LooseSeal says:

    And Matt Damon continues to go out of his way to ruin Matt Damon for us. 2016 really has killed everything good in the world.

  10. NastyWoman` says:

    White men tend to have that blind spot, unfortunately. As they say, to the privileged, equality feels like oppression. How dare the under-represented complain about continuing to be under-represented??

    • littlemissnaughty says:

      And don’t forget the “But I didn’t DO anything!” whining. I think that’s his problem. He doesn’t understand the difference between “You’re part of a problematic system.” and “This is your fault. Fix it.”

      It’s pretty clear that he refuses to identify the issue. I tend to give people a pass the first time but when they insist on staying ignorant, I’m out.

      • I Choose Me says:

        This is where I’m at too. I like him as an actor and I used to like him as an individual, including finding him hot at times but his low key arrogance has really put me off him of late.

        I even get his his argument, but couching it in terms of fake news click-bait is disingenuous and speaks to his privilege. I really don’t think he doesn’t see or understand the problem, he’s too smart for that. I think he’s just unwilling to make any sacrifices. This is a system from which he continually benefits so he will be loath to entertain any serious criticism of it.

  11. Rapunzel says:

    This is the area of personality where Affleck outshines Damon. He’s smarter about race issues, as the incident with Effie showed.

    • Fanny says:

      Except for that time that Ben Affleck whitewashed the Latino hero of the movie Argo because he wanted to play the role himself, and defended himself by saying the real Tony Mendez doesn’t look “ethnic” and doesn’t have a “Latin/Spanish” accent so it was ok.

    • KB says:

      Affleck is just a lot more intelligent than Damon in general. Matt seems to think he’s intelligent, so he keeps running his mouth and digging the hole deeper.

    • Yup, Me says:

      Eh- let’s not be too hasty. He did ask Skip Gates to remove that fact of his slave holding ancestor from his episode of Who do you think you are?

      Matt’s comments on economic disparities in this country (influenced by his mother’s experiences as a teacher, it seems) made me appreciate him. But clearly he hasn’t had the same years of exposure to develop his awareness around race in America. Hopefully he’ll work on that since he keeps flapping his jaw about it.

      • KB says:

        That’s because Affleck was ashamed by his ancestors. Damon seems to wear his white privilege like a badge of honor.

    • Rapunzel says:

      um…. Affleck playing Tony Mendez is not the same sort of whitewashing as Damon turning a film about the Great Wall of China into a White Savior Narrative.

      Certain films send messages about race, and others do not. Argo doesn’t. Damon’s film does. So do Dr. Strange and the Moses/Egypt/Christian Bale movie. There’s a difference. If race isn’t an issue in the film, like say, The Social Network, then nobody cares if a white guy, like Andrew Garfield, plays Hispanic Eduardo Saverin.

      But when a movie is about a culture’s biggest achievement (The Great wall of China) and that culture gets thrown under the bus in service of white hero worship, then it matters. And people care.

      As for the Skip Gates thing and Affleck, hiding racist ancestors doesn’t make you racist. Stupid, maybe, cause you’re bound to get caught. But people always hide appalling relatives. It doesn’t mean they’re supporting what their appalling relatives did. If he was hiding a murderer in his family, you wouldn’t accuse him of being a murderer or pro-murder, so why is hiding a racist a sign of racism?

  12. BearcatLawyer says:

    Until he finds it next to impossible to see someone like him represented on stage, TV, or film, he can shut the hell up!

  13. toni says:

    This guy is friends with Affleck brothers, one is cheating, gambling douchbag the other is sexually assulting women and Damon is campaigning for him to win an Oscar.

  14. anniefannie says:

    I don’t think Damon was saying all discussions relating to diversity/ white washing are click bait….just this particular one. Additionally, I think the Effie Brown issue was an unfair attack on Damon and people piled on….

    • K2 says:

      You think someone pointing out that diversity also means the people actually making the films, and not just those in front of the camera, is an unfair attack? How in the world can you broaden the perspectives movies show us when they’re written, directed, produced and greenlit to a hugely disproportionate extent by white men?

      I’m white, and it makes me cringe when people try to insist race is misinterpreted/overblown/taken out of context. I mean, sometimes it is… but almost always those misinterpretations etc are in our favour. We just don’t notice those, because that’s our cultural normal. We notice on the relatively rare occasion that we feel a white person is being unfairly traduced. That is in itself a problem; that we care when a privileged person is uncomfortable more than we do when huge numbers of people are systematically marginalised.

      • anniefannie says:

        To be specific I thought the Effie Brown incident was blown out of proportion. I watched Project Greenlight religiously. It was a nuanced situation as the finalists were selected by the viewers, Damon and Afflect were then asked to select from the finalists short films. The duo’s they had to select from were all white so when Effie was proposing they select a more diverse team that ship had sailed!
        As the series progressed Effie grew more and more unmanageable so I felt he was somewhat vindicated…

      • Lurker says:

        @anniefannie I too watched Project Greenlight, and we seem to have arrived at utterly different conclusions. I felt that Effie had her legs cut out from under her repeatedly by Jason the director, Matt and Ben, the Farrelly bros, and her co producer, who’s name I can’t quite recall.

        The budget was agreed upon, and it was part of her job to ensure that they stick to it. However, they all went around her, behind her back to undermine her, so that they could shoot on film (which I mean, COME ON. That awful film gained absolutely nothing from not being shot digitally, but it cost $300,000, so good call on that that one, various white men).

        I’m stunned that someone could watch the series and have their takeaway be that Effie was “unmanageable” and that Matt Damon was vindicated for having spoken to her in such a disrespectful way.

        I actually don’t hate Damon; but I do acknowledge that he has trouble understanding these issues – and I think his superior, condescending attitude might have ended Effie Brown’s career, which would be a crime.

      • Lurker says:

        Oh, and regarding the nuanced situation you described: Brown’s problem was that the other mentors were seriously suggesting that a white man would direct a script written by a white guy, about Black female sex workers. She felt that would be ridiculous, and she was right. When she argued that this script was desperately in need of diversity behind the camera, Damon told her that diversity only happens on screen.

        But okay, she was unmanageable and Matt Damon was vindicated. Sure.

      • anniefannie says:

        The Farrelly brother pulled out of the project ( which he was consulting for for free ) because of having to deal w/ Effie. The co-manager ( can’t remember his name either ) and others were trying to honor the directors vision because well…
        that was the point of the project. Certainly you could argue that the end product was a failure but artistic decisions were not hers to make.
        Because the director/ finalists were all white Damon then suggested a remedy of diversity of roles that had yet to be filled. I thought his solution, while maybe inartfully expressed was fine.

    • Timbuktu says:

      You’re funny. :-) So, every other actor is being criticized for white-washing fairly, but not Damon?

      • anniefannie says:

        @timbuktu No I view this on a case by case situation and in this case I don’t believe it to be a fair accusation….

    • ggggggg says:

      not to pile on, but in future, please understand that calling a black woman, whose ancestors were chattel-slaves, who herself is too often treated as a “problem” and an object to-be-feared, “unmanageable” is really not ok …
      do you think that the white men’s role here was to “manage” her ? I thought she was “managing” the budget ? I suppose dissent *is* quite difficult for oppressors to manage … ?

      • anniefannie says:

        I spent some time mulling over the adjective I would use and “manageable” was the least incendiary. Effie no matter the color of her skin or gender was difficult. While there were numerous times I believed she had valid points her lack of finesse coupled with zero self awareness torpedoed her positions. Like ability helps when you need to garner support and she had none….

      • anniefannie says:

        Like it or not Effie had people she reported too therefore the she was being managed. I think it’s a bit much to infer that I was marginalizing her because of her race.
        I work in the training industry and coachable/ manageable are terms/ identifiers that are frequently used regardless of the color of your skin

  15. huh says:

    Well the movie is trying to appeal to both Chinese and foreign markets hence why he was probably hired. I can’t name a single Chinese actor apart form Jackie Chan and Chow Yun Fat. And honestly I doubt they have the same appeal Damon has.

    • ElleBee says:

      That’s the problem isn’t it? You can’t name them because they aren’t given a chance even when the casting should be clear cut.

      • Betsy says:

        Per Godwina’s post far above, the director says the cast is majority Chinese, there are five leads and four of them are Asian. So they are being given a chance on a big budget production with crossover appeal.

    • Ramona says:

      Its been pretty clear over the last five years that the age of the movie star is over. Names dont sell tickets anymore, not that Damons ever did anyway. He was NEVER in that guaranteed hit club and his successes were built on the quality and hype of the film not his name. In any case, a film like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon didnt need a white make lead to be a huge hit. Also, the US Box Office is peanuts to a movie with access to Chinese audiences. If the Chinese backers had simply wanted to hit wider Europe and the rest of the world, they would have been better off with Van Damme or Stallone. Damons name has no legacy in those markets.

    • Lyka says:

      It’s true that Damon is a recognizable name and decent financial bet, but as others have already commented, the argument that a movie can’t sell overseas without a known (read: white) lead has already been disproven repeatedly. And even if it were true, the fact would remain that white supremacy and anglocentrism don’t just apply to the cultural norms of the United States. They extend across the globe and affect the latent societal expectations of people of all races and nationalities.

  16. Aiobhan Targaryen says:

    I love that some of these so called “liberal” white men (Jon Stewart as well) are finally being exposed for what they really are: hypocritical, mediocre, self-serving white men who are woefully unprepared for dealing with criticism that is aimed at them. They see that there are problems in the world, but never even stop to consider that they are the problem or contribute to it in any way. They are white men who get praised for doing the least amount of work.

    Most people, like him, seem to think that racism is just burning crosses and calling someone a racial slur. Racism is also telling derogatory jokes about how cheap Indians are or how black people are lazy whiners who also happen to be poor, or not being able to tell the difference between a Chinese person and a Japanese person. Or asking anyone “where are you really from?” You never have to utter one slur to say something racist or bigoted. Playing on stereotypes is another form of racism that needs to be addressed. He is a part of this conversation whether he wants to be or not. He could engage, reflect and help us change this world for the better. But he chooses to keep up the status quo because he is a mediocre white man who doesn’t want to actually change anything. He just wants us to stop pointing fingers at him.

    • LittlestRoman says:

      PREACH. I am so tired of whiny white people – and I’m white! No, I am not personally responsible for creating the cultural framework that assigns and perpetuates my unearned privilege, but that doesn’t mean I can’t do anything about it. Or even recognize that it’s there, which seems to be the real issue.

    • I Choose Me says:

      Applauding everything single word you wrote.

  17. Sixer says:

    Can he not understand that it’s the STORY BEING TOLD that’s the problem here?

    Can I also just insert a shout-out for Netflix’s Marco Polo, which yes, had a European lead, but centred the story sans white hero/saviour?

    • Prettykrazee says:

      No. He can’t. He’s doing he best to say this movie isn’t whitewashing while totally ignoring the white savior complex aspect this movie seems to have.

    • littlemissnaughty says:

      Sixer, you just don’t understand. Let Matty explain it to you once more. His role was specifically written for a white dude so he didn’t take it from a person of color so clearly THERE IS NO PROBLEM! The story obviously needed said white dude coming to rescue the Chinese.

    • Timbuktu says:

      Yes! I was about to say! In some movies, the ethnicity or race are sort of irrelevant. If a movie is modern, if it is set in a country with a lot of diversity, if the focus is not on racism or a specific aspect of culture that only certain ethnicities can relate to, then cast whoever you think is the best, fine. But to make a movie about China centuries ago and to cast a white guy as the lead is just tone-deaf and weird. Here we have a humongous country with immense cultural heritage, but the only one who can save them is this white dude who happened to drop by.

      • M.A.F. says:

        Which to be honest, I’m trying to figure out how two white guys (there are two of them) just happened to be in China. What century is this film suppose to take place? Because unless he is Marco Polo or a Jesuit priest, there are no white people until the 15th-16th century.

      • SilverUnicorn says:


      • littlemissnaughty says:

        They’re supposed to be mercenaries so I guess we don’t have to wonder about that. Which … mercenaries? Really? Oy.

        IMDB isn’t helpful, I tried to find out when this is supposed to take place and my god, I was just reminded why I NEVER read those message boards anymore.

      • Lindsey says:

        They apparently were there to steal gun powder. I think they are stealing gun powder for their mercenary stuff and saw an opportunity once they were there.

      • Miri says:

        What I have read in chinese press is that is alternate universe, there are monsters and other creatures. From what I have see is fantasy movie.
        The other thing is they are promoting the movie as ensemble cast. Is Matt Damon the lead o is just especulation?

    • Birdix says:

      It’s bizarre that the thieving European mercenary is cast as the hero, right?

  18. melior says:

    So basically this is just another Chinese story told from an European’s perspective with a lot of Chinese figurants. Why would a chnese director agree to this? And yes a shout-out to Netflix Marco Polo which shows that characters played by actual Asian actors can be extremely captivating
    I’m still mourning for Kaidu, people! Who’s with me?

    • HeidiM says:

      Season 2 ripped my heart out! Love that show. So many hot actors too!

    • Lyka says:

      I don’t think Zhang Yimou’s (the director) motivations are really very confusing. He’s a Chinese director, a prolific one at that, who finally had the opportunity to direct a major tent pole feature set in Chinese culture with a massive budget starring (along with Damon) scores of Chinese actors. It was a great opportunity, and I can totally understand why he took it.

      • MrsBPitt says: you don’t think that Yimou shouldn’t have taken a stand on this whitewashing topic? He is Chinese! If anyone should have taken a stand to support Chinese actors, it should be him. What you are saying is that is was a great opportunity for his career. Shouldn’t he be held to the same standards as Matt Damon. Not saying Matt is right, at all, but I don’t think Yimou should get a pass either!

  19. OriginallyBlue says:

    I am glad I never liked him, but the list of actors/directors whose movies I will not watch just keeps getting longer.

    • BJ says:

      Who is on your list?
      Offhand have Depp,Affleck,Nate Parker,Matt Damon.I am holding out hope that Brad Pitt will acknowledge he has some issues before a write him off.

      • Lurker says:

        I’ve been thinking about this – for me, there’s a difference between not loving someone’s personal choices and lifestyle, and believing that they are abusive and predatory.

        I don’t love Ben Affleck as a person, but I wouldn’t boycott his movies. I would avoid seeing Casey Affleck’s films, because I believe that he can be abusive. Similarly, I’m in not chomping at the bit to see Matt Damon, but I think that Brad Pitt consistently makes progressive films, particularly as a producer. I know something happened on a plane with his son, but I’m not sure that that would make me boycott his projects.

        Controversial: I can’t bear Depp, because spousal abuse. I don’t mind Michael Fassbender though, and my reasoning is based on what I have read, and what I believe about I read.

        Basically, 2016 means dividing all the things you love (in this case, film) into piles of horrible, and acceptable.

      • Catelina says:

        Isn’t confirmation that Pitt is going to extensive therapy an acknowledgement? Don’t know why people seem to think he owes THEM a public statement about the details. The only people he needs to be apologizing to are his family, its nobody else’s business and releasing statements only drives the craziness further.

        On topic: He sounds willfully ignorant here

  20. Hermy says:

    But in the article it says he’s playing an English mercenary so why should it have to be a Chinese actor?

    • Timbuktu says:

      I think the point isn’t that a Chinese actor should play an English mercenary, but rather that it is disappointing that when a Chinese director gets to make a movie about China’s iconic landmark, he choses to frame it as a story of a random fictitious white explorer, rather than a real Chinese historical figure, which there must have been one since the wall was actually built.
      I think it’s quite infuriating to predicate the existence of something that is quintessentially Chinese on the will of a fake white dude. It’s like making a movie about – I don’t know – Egyptian pyramids and saying that they were built because some French dude inspired them.

      • Hermy says:

        Ah, I see. Thank you for explaining, Timbuktu 😊

      • Margo S. says:

        I agree with you, but just wanted to say this. The director in a film (unless it’s an indie) doesn’t have a say on who stars in it. That’s the studios decision. This director is the top director in China. Finally given a chance to direct an American film, but under one condition. It has to star a Hollywood actor. It’s so sad because it’s not like he’s going to throw away a chance to go global with a film. Ugh. Hollywood really is a cesspool.

    • BJ says:

      I think the issue is he is dismissing that whitewashing is even an issue, in general not specifically in this case.

      • Lucy2 says:

        This- even if his casting in this is appropriate for the character, he needs to acknowledge it as a larger problem beyond himself and this movie.

  21. Cee says:

    This man is married to a south american. His daughters are not American “white”. They are minorities so I don’t understand how he can be so effing BLIND.

  22. Valrhonic says:

    I tend to agree with him. While there is indeed a need to explore the issue of whitewashing which has been historically widespread in the film industry, that doesn’t necessarily mean that every instance now and going forward has to automatically be labelled as a whitewash. In this case, with a film which sounds like a fantasy film that takes place in Asia, why can’t it be the case that the characters are played by white actors if the producers, directors, investors all see fit for them to do? Maybe the plot & storyline was intended so, regardless of which part of the planet it would take place. It’s their choice to do so, and doesn’t have to immediately suggest an intention to whitewash anything. A little perspective would go a long way to allowing the genuine issue of whitewashing be discussing amongst more people. Leaping to controversy when it isn’t always warranted doesn’t do anything other than alienate those who might feel differently.

    • Timbuktu says:

      Perhaps if they stuck to a fantasy scenario, it’d be fine. Like, a white dude goes to China, has a bunch of fights, wins some, the end. I think, though, that when you anchor your “fantasy” movie to an iconic landmark of the country, recreate some epic battles, where thousands of Chinese are following perhaps the only white dude in the entire country, that sort of kills the abstract fantasy and becomes a statement.

      • AmunetMaat says:

        I agree. Also, it’s protocol that whenever a white person is added to a historical situation or film that the film is labelled and presented as a fantasy to justify the behaviour. I have an issue with the entire story structure. The story is created in a way that supports the whitewashing of Chinese history and culture. It would be different if he was playing a minor character.

    • Lightpurple says:

      The trailer features what appears to be a dragon.

    • ggggggg says:

      but this is one the key problems so many white folk have when trying to understand/participate in these kinds of conversations—this is not about ajudicating every specific instance for its specific properties**;” it’s about systemic privilege, about the colonial-imperial story of the last 500 years … there is no storytelling about white men in china, or european “mercenaries” literally ANYWHERE outside of europe, that is not a part of this greater story of oppression and access.

      **though, you seem to give the producers and plotting/concept of a bloated 3d hollywood epic far too much credit here

  23. OhDear says:

    Problematic issues aside, I’m concerned that he’s dismissing this issue as “fake news.” This isn’t like some conspiracy theory about pizzas being a code word for child sexual abuse and trafficking that makes no sense if you look at the alleged evidence presented.

    • LittlestRoman says:

      Am I the only one who sees a disturbing connection between the far-right’s fixation with child sex trafficking and the existence of people like Warren Jeffs and things like father-daughter purity balls? To be clear, I am not denying the existence of child sex trafficking or the horrors therein. I just see some troubling implications and…ick. I need to shower now.

  24. Kiki says:

    Matt Damon is s Douche bag. He needs to just shut his idiot face and go away. And BTW the at Jason Bourne Movie SUCKS .

    • AmunetMaat says:

      I was so bored during the new Jason Bourne movie. My hubby wanted to see it because “all of the Bourne films are good.” Man talk about a snooze fest, and the whole time I was thinking, man he’s old and why would this agency care about his “secrets” at this point, they have to be outdated and close to useless. The story should have ended with the 3rd film. It was the perfect wrap up. And I can’t say more about how old he looked in the role and how improbable the storyline was at this point.

  25. SM says:

    You got to seriously side eye his fake news approach. But then if that was the story –that thete is a hero from another civilisation (European) then the writers and studio should get as much if not more heat that the actor cast for the role. I have a different question though – is Pedro Pascal pakying a chineese character?. Because that IS a problem.

  26. Sage says:

    Hollywood and Matt just want the Chinese box office money.

  27. Margo S. says:

    I seriously have been disliking Damon more and more over the years. This just did it. What a complete jackass. Just don’t talk anymore. He seriously just sounds like he gives zero effs. What a d!ck.

  28. Katherine says:


  29. Rachelle says:

    To be fair Emma’s character was based on a real person who was proud of her Asian/Hawaiian heritage but looked like a typical white person, and felt she had to over explain herself because of it. I know several people in real life, or even Alexis Bledel who have to oversell their heritage because of how “white” they look. I don’t think anyone should be blamed for that casting decision.

    • Marianne says:

      The only thing I wonder though, is how hard did they look to find an actual asian woman who would fit the role? Or did they just choose Emma without a second thought?

  30. QQ says:

    *lets out so much air on this deep sigh that quite literally i Sound like a balloon deflating behind this B*llshit* Is gonna continue being this the reminder of the f*ckass year Isn’t?!?!

  31. Lisa says:

    Well, he is a privileged white boy, so he would. Shut up, Matt.

  32. Moon says:

    Shut up Matt. For someone who keeps playing up a nice guy humanitarian image, hearing this come out of his mouth is so disappointing. I wonder what his response would be like if he were one of those being whitewashed? Not to mention his disgusting cover up of Casey Affleck’s sexual harassment allegations. Wake up Matt. Your straight white male privilege is strangling everyone and you’re still pretending to be a good guy? Disgusting.

  33. TOPgirl says:

    If you’re white, you need to sit the hell down because whitewashing is REAL. I don’t hate white people but I think they really don’t understand what it means to be a minority in America. But then I also don’t know what it means to be white so I wouldn’t know what the hell is going through their minds.
    All i Know is that there has got to be an understanding from both sides of the fence because we can’t have it one or the other way.

    • Valrhonic says:

      To suggest that anyone in this discussion who takes the view that this particular instance might not be a case of whitewashing is somehow racist, or not allowed to have that opinion *especially* if they are white, as about as racist and ignorant as you can get. To imply that any person/poster with a skin colour that is white is not entitled or capable to have an opinion or perspective on anything going forward with regards to the subject of whitewashing is utterly ignorant and plain ridiculous. Just because some some people (regardless of skin colour) are racist does not mean all people (regardless of skin colour) are racist. Everyone should have the opportunity to share their viewpoints on the matter. Just because you might not like or agree with their opinion, for example in this case – as I posted above, I’m not convinced that this is a case of whitewashing, doesn’t allow you or anyone write off their input should they happen to be white or any other colour you deem to be unworthy.

    • TOPgirl says:

      Let’s blackwash all of America…starting with American superheroes please, superman is black, wonderwoman is black, ironman is black, suicide squad (all black), ugh, another black president, black congress, black most of everything even commercials and messages on t.v., black news network. Now, will White people complain then that everything is blackwashed after that? Hmm. I wonder.

  34. sunjet says:

    I am a little confused at the outrage. The director himself said he is one of 5 major heroes, the other 4 being Chinese. It is a fantasy, apart from his poor explanation and defending of his role, why so angry? The director made it with the intention of including a white actor. One white actor has the culpability to reduce the film to a racist project? I don’t understand.

    • Valrhonic says:

      Speaking as a European, I think the outrage comes from a great many users of this website viewing everything from the lens of the USA and it’s very troubled racial history. The default reaction so often appears to be – if it’s deemed to be racist/whitewashing/white priviledge in the US, then that reasoning must apply globally. Which of course is ludicrous. Here in Europe, our experience and understanding of international films & directors is very different – and the reaction to this film couldn’t be any different. To witness so many users here automatically apply issues that are relevant in the US towards international contexts is very sad; certainly the concerns are not necessarily relevant outside the US. To project the issue of whitewashing onto a filmed funded, filmed, directed by Chinese stakeholders – and one that is evidently a fantasy film involving a dragon (which could therefore reference Europe as dragons are legendary creatures in folklore and mythology here) – is absurd and unnecessary. It’s smacks of arrogance and a simple desire to find offence anywhere possible, which simply creates divisions.

      • Stella Alpina says:

        Valrhonic & sunjet, I do think some people are rushing to judge this particular movie before it has even been released. However, it’s not confusing why many posters here are reacting this way. Not confusing at all. First off, this is an American website. Yes, there are many posters from other parts of the world, but the tone and outlook of this site, as dictated by the writers, come from an American point of view. If I were a regular reader of an English gossip site, I would not dismiss the opinions there as being too English or British.

        So many Hollywood movies (and let’s face it, movies are one of America’s biggest exports; they are still influential) rely on white saviours to lead oppressed POC to freedom (The Last Samurai, Dances With Wolves). So many movies default to white actors when the characters are either understood to be POC or were specifically written as non-white in the source material: Ghost In The Shell, Dr. Strange, Gods Of Egypt, Aloha, Exodus, Pan, The Last Airbender, Prince of Persia, Drive, Wanted, Batman Begins, 30 Days Of Night, The House Of The Spirits, Starship Troopers, etc, etc, etc. Starship Troopers is very memorable to me because in the novel the main character is Filipino (a rarity), but in the film adaptation he’s played by Casper Van Dien!

        It’s even more insulting when a movie is based on real people who aren’t white, but the actors portraying them are white. Examples: 21, a film based on the true story of Asian Americans who beat the casinos through card counting, cast white actors as the leads. Argo. The Social Network. A Beautiful Mind. A Mighty Heart. World Trade Center, Pay It Forward. The list goes on…

        Whitewashing has existed since the beginning. I remember Mickey Rooney’s appalling characterization of a Japanese man in Breakfast At Tiffany’s. And much earlier in 1937, we have The Good Earth, in which 2 white actors played the leads in a film (based on a Pulitzer Prize winning book) about farmers in China before World War I.

        The outrage is completely understandable to any POC in America. Maybe it’s not such a deal to people in other countries who’ve lived in different social conditions, but to someone in the U.S., a country filled with people of so many ethnicities, a country built by immigrants, this is tiresome and sickening when the main point of view in most movies is a white one. I welcome that people are free to complain loudly about it, when for so long they could not be heard.

      • Really? says:

        Europe isn’t very diverse. See: Brexit. They don’t believe they have a diversity problem because they don’t allow very many immigrants into their countries. When they do, there is always an uproar. Europeans believe in homogeneity and do not have pockets of Chinatown, Little India, ect. like in the US. The Dutch try to explain away blackface as a harmless tradition. Most Europeans assume Asians are all Japanese tourists, Muslims are terrorists, ect.

    • whatthewhat says:

      thank you, lord. this site is ridiculous. as to responder on your comment. I am American and get so tired at these bloody uproars over something that ACTUALLY is harmless. i had no idea about the four other heroes, maybe because everyone is focusing on Damon? they should start promoting the Chinese stars if they are so upset, less attention to Damon.

  35. hey-ya says:

    …yes hes a prime example of wmp…very few poc in the bourne movies & the women are killed off like nobodies business…he should speak up for more divesity in his movies….quite like the trailer for great wall tho…

  36. Ash says:

    Most minorities know in this world you mainly have 2 major group of white people… the blatant KLUXy hateful type and then the liberal pass aggressive, let make this character white, cultural appropriation out the wazoo, screaming “not EVERYTHING is about race, jeez”, white-plain, color-blindness claiming, condescending type…. and honestly I dont know what type is worst…. there’s a 3rd group which have generally been silo-ed all there lives, living and growing up wherever they did, and didnt know this was a major issues because thy’ve never been confronted with it, I find this 3rd type is the most open to change as much as they can be. Matt might have been in group 3 back in beanstown boston mostly irish german town….but as a multi-million dollar leading man FOR DECADES he has now morphed into group 2, and is all “stop that noise”. But matt it’s legitimately NOT noise and all very valid, verified, and real.

    With this election i think there is a growing eye opening happening to millennial whites that the world is ugly and you cant simply unsee nor claim it’s click bait, fake news, etc. etc. thats deflecting and not addressing the problem….and YES ben and matt have always been white/man plainers, just never this bad.

    And before you jump on my comment, think for a second and really read what im saying …. it’s has validity to it. Its being not pc and brutally honest, which we all need to be in these matters, as this is the 3 or 4 entertainment incident/casting in the last year and a half where we have beloved actors who happen to be white…. all of the sudden auditioning for and winning out on POC roles and POC narrratives. It’s unnerving to say the least

    Matt really wouldnt feel it until say if his daughter was in a school play with a culturally latina girl character. Did a with a solid audition….and she gets BLATANTLY overlooked…for the popular nordic white girl….. then it may be a GOBSMACK-ing moment for him on the diversity and willful-inclusion (that’s key, not diversity for diversity sake – i.e. tokenism, but wanting to have authenticity to very interesting stories through williful inclusion)

  37. Wren33 says:

    I agree with him technically – that this is not in fact whitewashing because this is an invented character in a fantasy movie with monsters. This is different than white actors playing established Asian literary or historical figures. However, he ignores the larger point, that there is no reason for this character to be white beyond the idea that you need a white male lead to get people to come to the movies.

  38. whatthewhat says:

    lord. i understand the anger with the Effie situation. interrupting is just rude, everyone knows that. this though?? THEY picked HIM! China is trying to get big in movies and using a popular American actor is fine! Thus far we have no proof that this will even be the norm. I really think this is a gigantic overreaction especially when there is ACTUAL whitewashing going on.

    • Valrhonic says:

      Agree completely. And to be clear, if this were a case of a US-funded film, with US actors, about a US story using white actors to portray minorities – then absolutely it would be a case of whitewashing. And in that scenario, as a European I wouldn’t dream of wading into the debate as I would be wholly ignorant of the issue as it’s not something I’ve any experience or knowledge of. My point is that the same logic applies in reverse – Americans need to be a lot more mindful to not automatically assume & apply US domestic/national/historical issues to anything outside the US. And also agree, the huge overreaction to this film & Matt Damon (who does not deserve it, as you pointed out, they chose him) diminishes the conversation about instances of real whitewashing in the US.

      • TOPgirl says:

        Yeah, in your eyes, only if it happens in America. But if it happens in Africa, China, Mexico, Thailand, Iraq, wherever else in the world..then it would not be considered a whitewashing of their beloved heroes correct?

        Scenario: A movie gets made about your family, your mother is portrayed by a black woman and your dad is an Asian man and you’re white. That’s should okay too right because we clearly don’t see color?

  39. MadHatter says:

    I can actually smell the stench of white privilege all the way from my chair.
    What a silly and ignorant thing to say, he has such a big platform to campaign for those ignored, and he wastes it by reducing a problem of hollywood to
    “It’s just clickbait”.
    BOY BYE!

  40. MrsBPitt says:

    I’m just going to say this, even though I’m know I will get raked over the coals…I am the mother of two young, white males, and I am so sick of them having to hear how racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. ALL white men are!!!! People should be judged INDIVIDUALLY, and not by group! Isn’t that what intelligent, progressive, and righteous people do? Isn’t that what activist have been fighting for? So that all men and women are judged on who they are, and what they say and do, and not what they look like! Reading some of the posts on this thread is disturbing. I do understand there is white privilege, and there is still racism in the world and I hope there will be a day when that is not the case, but, seriously, not all white men are racist!

    • me says:

      Of course not all white men are racist. Also, not all poc are accepting and open-minded. There is good and bad in every group.

    • Sonia says:

      Sorry, this conversation is not about you nor about your sons. It is about the under-representation of people of colour in the movie world. Nobody is calling your sons racist or privileged. With respect, you need to look past your defensiveness and acknowledge the problem we are discussing.

  41. Ari says:

    wow what a damn shame

  42. Nan says:

    In this particular case – just No.

    In Doctor Strange the Tibetan character was whitewashed to make this movie palatable for Chinese market. They can eat whitened version of Great Wall up too. At least in this year, no crying about casting from these quarters, please.

  43. mynama says:

    Give me a break. The Effie thing was absurd. He didn’t “man-splain” or “white-wash” or anything of the sort.

  44. Cookiejar says:

    White male privilege.

    OF COURSE he doesn’t think so (!). So I guess he’ll be telling us that the gender gap doesn’t exist? Both in lower pay and lack of advancement opportunities, regardless of how hard women fight for them? Or that a woman typically has to work twice as hard to receive half the praise?

    All of those exist, and if you’re not a white , you will be shafted. I’m white and I know it. Non-white men can get the one up over a white female, because there are plenty of people that might discriminate a woman first (some, not all, but typically the racists men tend to be sexists as well, you never know which prejudice will kick in first). But between a white man and a non white man (for example)? The white man will get the best of it most times.

  45. Sunshine Gold says:

    This ‘controversy’ is ridiculous, but Matt Damon has become insufferable just because he’s so smug.