Despite the film depicting historic Asian culture and being set in China with a predominantly Chinese cast, it still has a Caucasian actor at the forefront. So even if Damon isn't playing a character with a Chinese name, you still have a film with a "white savior" complex which has been done to death in films like Avatar and Dances With Wolves.
I find this rather unfortunate because this is a U.S. and Chinese co-production and they had the opportunity to finally allow an Asian actor to be the lead of a Hollywood film. The worst part is that roles that end up being whitewashed go to actors that are never hurting for roles. Matt Damon never will be. Scarlett Johansson, who's playing Motoko in Ghost In The Shell, isn't hurting for roles since she is already Black Widow. Emma Stone, who played the part-Asian Allison Ng in Aloha, isn't banging on people's doors for a great role.
Some people will probably defend Damon's casting, saying "Well, lead ethnic actors don't sell movie tickets." But at this point, I say that isn't an excuse. Ridley Scott tried defending the whitewashed cast of Exodus: Gods and Kings, essentially saying that he couldn't get a foreign actor who doesn't sell movie tickets as the lead of his film. Yet Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton sell movie tickets?
Now, I do like that the U.S. and China are co-producing a flm together and I don't want to sound ungrateful. But I care a lot about seeing opportunities given to people of color and seeing them be the stars of their own pictures. Like Idris Elba once said, "The talent is there. The opportunity isn't." Until we see more opportunities given to people of color and also women, I am going to continue to speak on the diversity issue. I may be speak on it a little too much. But again, it's only because I care.
What do you guys think? Are you as tired as I am about seeing history being whitewashed or do you see this as business as usual? Please feel free to write your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks for reading!