“The Great Wall” was accused of whitewashing last year after it was revealed that noted white actor Matt Damon was its star. In the film, the 46-year-old actor plays William, a European mercenary who makes it his duty to save China from giant creatures.
In response to the film’s release today, the Internet has made a point of recognizing all the contributions Damon has made to Asian cultures using the hashtag #ThankYouMattDamon.
Not only are Twitter users sarcastically recognizing him for saving China…
— SJPaul (@JeakPaul) February 16, 2017
#thankyoumattdamon for finding the asian within yourself to save china, and represent our marginalized community :)
— 🎇 grace 🎇 (@gracejuice) February 17, 2017
— Melissa K. (@melissjk) February 16, 2017
But also for his lesser known Asian teachings and accomplishments.
Matt Damon immigrated to a country where he didn't know anyone or speak the language so I could have a better life #thankyoumattdamon
— Teresa Wang (@tewang32) February 16, 2017
#thankyoumattdamon for teaching me how to cook rice.
— Cipher714 (@Cipher562) February 17, 2017
— bottlecapking (@bottlecapkingnj) February 17, 2017
#thankyoumattdamon for giving us authentic Chinese food that is Panda Express.
— Benji. (@benvficial) February 17, 2017
#ThankYouMattDamon for teaching Confucius everything he knew about philosophy
— daniel york (@danielfyork) February 17, 2017
Because after all, where would Asians be without him?
In response to the whitewashing controversy, Damon defended the movie saying his role was never intended for an Asian actor.
“The whole idea of whitewashing, I take that very seriously,” he told the Associated Press in December. “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.”
On Thursday, Damon appeared on ABC News to address the controversy again, explaining that it was a misunderstanding due to the poster.
“Those allegations were kind of centred on the poster. And it said, ‘The Great Wall,’ and then it was my name and my face and people were like, ‘What the...?’” he explained. “So there was this kind of outcry, like, I think people maybe thought it was something about building the Great Wall, or something having to do with actual Chinese history.”
“It's this crazy monster movie,” he continued. “You know, so it's 1100 A.D., but there are monsters. I guess kind of like ‘Game of Thrones.’”
Despite this, fans have always been adamant that the real problem with the film is the fact that Damon, a white actor, was chosen to save China.
...why would white men need to be in a movie about the Great Wall, even if it's a monster movie?
— Nicole Chung (@nicole_soojung) July 28, 2016