Matt Damon made a huge misstep when he discussed diversity on-screen during the premiere of his HBO show Project Greenlight Sunday night.
It all started during a discussion about one of the films, which only has one black character, a woman who is playing a prostitute.
Successful director Effie Brown, who also happens to be a black woman, had some words of advice for the people involved in the project.
“I would just want to urge people to think about, whoever this director is, the way that they’re going to treat the character of Harmony with her being a prostitute, the only black person being a hooker who gets hit by her white pimp.”
Damon tries to justify the decision to have this character be the only black person. “When we’re talking about diversity, you do it in the casting of the film, not in the casting of the show.”
“Ooh, wow,” Brown responds, clearly upset by Damon’s words. “OK.”
Matt Damon speaking over the only black person in the room so he can explain diversity to her is SO WHITE it hurts pic.twitter.com/iaQStYZ0ij
— Glen Coco (@MrPooni) September 14, 2015
There is no denying that it was a foot-in-mouth moment. Both the cast and the crew of a show should be diverse to ensure proper representation of all characters involved. Without diversity there is no truth, which is what films should strive for in their messages.
And fans were quick to jump on Damon in outrage.
@Jezebel dammit Matt. You were so much more appealing when you didn't try to say stuff.
— Lorule (@l0l0we) September 14, 2015
@Jezebel white privilege
— Marcia Hearne (@marciahearne1) September 14, 2015
— M Thomas (@kelimessenger) September 14, 2015
Ready to give up a 15 year long crush on Matt Damon to make room in my squishy heart corner for Effie Brown (@dulynotedinc)
— shelby fero (@shelbyfero) September 14, 2015
And while his statement should not have been disregarded, I think it’s also think it’s important to note that there’s a very, very good chance that Damon’s words were simply either taken out of context or that he didn’t mean what he said like people took it, especially given Damon’s family is itself racially diverse. He is married to an Argentinian woman, Luciana Barroso, and the couple has four children together.
Damon is also extremely educated and advocates for many diverse causes around the world. I don’t think that one misstep should negate all of the positive awareness he incorporates into his life on a daily basis.
Damon has yet to comment on all the controversy.
It’s also key to add that Damon is one of the Project Greenlight creators, which means he has some serious say about what makes the final cut of the show. So either he realized that he was being an idiot and thought it was important for people to learn from his mistakes, or he just really wanted to stir up some controversy for the season premiere. If the latter is the case, mission accomplished.
I just really, really hope he doesn’t actually think he was right.