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Matt Damon Responds To Criticism: "Really, Guys?"

Photo: C. Flanigan/Getty Images.
Matt Damon is really bummed about all of these "whitewashing" accusations directed at his new film, The Great Wall. The movie, an epic fantasy featuring a dragon attack and a battle for, yes, the Great Wall, is set in China and stars Damon — a non-Chinese lead. Pedro Pascal of Narcos and Game of Thrones fame also appears in the film, which has received criticism for the fact that Damon, a white actor, leads a film set in China.

Both Pascal and Damon are taking the criticism lightly. At a press conference this weekend at New York Comic Con, Damon seemed shocked, if not a little irritated, about the accusations levied against the film.

"I was like, 'Really, guys?'" Damon said at the conference, according to Coming Soon. "To me whitewashing was when Chuck Connors played Geronimo. There are far more nuanced versions of it and I do try to be sensitive to that, but Pedro Pascal called me and goes, 'Yeah, we are guilty of whitewashing. We all know only the Chinese defended the wall against the monster attack.'"

To be clear, the film hasn't actually been accused of whitewashing — the term is "white hero bias." Earlier this year, Constance Wu criticised the film on Twitter for having said bias. The Fresh Off The Boat actress wrote that she sought to point out "the repeatedly implied racist notion that white people are superior to POC and that POC need salvation from our own colour via white strength."

The issue is less about yellowface and more about the fact that Hollywood simply cannot allow a person of color to portray the lead in any film. Case in point: Even a film set in China cannot feature a Chinese lead.

In response to the press conference, Wu tweeted to clarify:

Damon seems to think that the film's release will clear up any "issues." He said in the same press conference that he'd be "shocked" if audiences were still offended at the movie after seeing it. Don't knock it til you try it, the actor implied.

Based on the trailer, sure, the movie looks engaging. There's a grim-looking Willem Dafoe, blazing fireballs, and a big "secret." But the "bias" this film exhibits is not within the script — it's in the casting. Watch the full trailer below. (Moviefone)