It’s time for another round of Liberal America’s favorite game:
Is It Racist?
I just learned of The Great Wall. It’s a Chinese movie, with a Chinese director, a largely Chinese cast, set in ancient China. It’s the most expensive Chinese movie of all time (to date). But the script was written by American screen writers, and perhaps most important – this movie about the building of the Great Wall of China stars Matt Damon. (all info taken from the linked article)
I’m sure y’all remember the Scarlet-Johanson-as-Major-Kusanagi kerfuffle. It was interesting that as much as this was a big deal in the US, people in Japan didn’t understand why it was controversial. Now we have a Chinese movie, casting a white guy in its lead role.
If this was an American movie, with an American director, etc, there would be outcry about this whitewashing/appropriation. Perhaps with good reason? Regardless, I’m pretty sure we won’t be hearing anything like that regarding The Great Wall, since it’s a Chinese movie, and it’s not acceptable to call a non-white group Racist for making a movie the way they want to make it instead of the way we would like it to be made. The closest I’ve seen so far is the weak-sauce admission that it’s “an unfortunate look” at io9.
I plan on asking people “Is It Racist?” about The Great Wall a lot. Maybe it can move the conversation on cultural exchange/appropriation onto more sane grounds.
For what it’s worth, whenever I get questions like this, I always try to identify who is harmed. I’m not sure I know enough about the situation yet to have strong opinions on that.
EDIT: Well, I was crazy wrong about that, it only took a few hours for the calling-out to begin. Perhaps I should have expected that, based on having seen black rappers called racist when creating ganster-rap. I’m updating in the direction of “it’s become OK to call anyone racist.”