Updated Jan. 16, 2018, noon PT: It’s long overdue, but Matt Damon is finally apologizing for those comments he made about sexual assault and harassment in Hollywood. During an appearance on Today Tuesday, he addressed the things he had said, and the swift and brutal backlash he deservedly faced.
“Boy, I really wish I’d listened a lot more before I weighed in on this,” he said. When host Kathie Lee Gifford told him he’s a good listener, he replied, “Not in this case.”
He continued, “I think, ultimately, what it is for me is I don’t want to further anybody’s pain with anything that I do or say. So for that, I’m really sorry. This whole Time’s Up [movement], a lot of those women are my dear friends and I love them and respect them and support what they’re doing and want to be a part of that change and go along for that ride. I should get in the backseat and close my mouth for a while.”
Damon’s original comments were completely out of line, and it’s good he’s realized that. But his apology is pretty bare bones, so it sounds like he still has a lot of listening to do.
Updated Dec. 17, 2017, 9:00 p.m. PT: Minnie Driver isn’t giving Matt Damon — or any man for that matter — a pass when it comes to mansplaining sexual misconduct. Just days after calling out her former Good Will Hunting costar (and ex-boyfriend) on Twitter over his misguided comments, Driver clarified her feelings in an interview with The Guardian.
“I felt I desperately needed to say something,” the Speechless star said. “I’ve realized that most men, good men, the men that I love, there is a cut-off in their ability to understand. They simply cannot understand what abuse is like on a daily level. I honestly think that until we get on the same page, you can’t tell a woman about their abuse. A man cannot do that. No one can. It is so individual and so personal, it’s galling when a powerful man steps up and starts dictating the terms, whether he intends it or not.”
Driver’s initial response to Damon’s controversial comments on Twitter — a brief but pointed, “God God, SERIOUSLY?” — was quickly bolstered by fellow celebrities like Alyssa Milano as well as the general public. Damon has not addressed Driver’s comments at this time.
Original story, published Dec. 15, 2017: It might really be time for someone to tell Matt Damon to just stop talking. About sexual misconduct, that is.
Case in point: Damon, who clearly thinks that women have said enough about the wave of sexual misconduct allegations coming out of Hollywood, felt it was his turn to weigh in. As a regularly participating member of this culture, he could have said something short and sweet and simple, and we wouldn’t be having this conversation. But unfortunately, that’s not what happened.
Damon started out by saying, “I think we’re in this watershed moment. I think it’s great. I think it’s wonderful that women are feeling empowered to tell their stories, and it’s totally necessary.”
This is fine. This is great. But he didn’t stop there. “I do believe that there’s a spectrum of behavior, right? And we’re going to have to figure — you know, there’s a difference between, you know, patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation, right? Both of those behaviors need to be confronted and eradicated without question, but they shouldn’t be conflated, right?” Damon said.
Wait… Was anyone confusing child rape and butt pats as similar behaviors? We sure hope not.
He continued, “You know, we see somebody like Al Franken, right? I personally would have preferred if they had an Ethics Committee investigation, you know what I mean? It’s like at what point — you know, we’re so energized to kind of get retribution, I think.”
It’s true that we are energized for retribution. But it’s also true that men have gotten away with using and abusing women with next to no retribution for all of history, and finally getting some of that has us a little excited. So, we don’t really think we’re the gender in the wrong, here, guys.
Believe it or not, Damon continued on.
“And we live in this culture of outrage and injury, and, you know, that we’re going to have to correct enough to kind of go, ‘Wait a minute. None of us came here perfect.’ You know what I mean? The Louis C.K. thing, I don’t know all the details. I don’t do deep dives on this, but I did see his statement, which kind of, which [was] arresting to me. When he came out and said, ‘I did this. I did these things. These women are all telling the truth.’ And I just remember thinking, ‘Well, that’s the sign of somebody who — well, we can work with that’… Like, when I’m raising my kids, this constant personal responsibility is as important as anything else they learn before they go off in the world.”
We would suggest Matt Damon or anyone for that matter do a little research before trying to discuss something as serious as sexual misconduct and/or assault. Louis C.K. admitted that accusations made against him were true; his accusers said that he routinely took off his clothes and masturbated in front of unconsenting women and that he threatened their careers in comedy if they told him no or sought any retribution for that behavior. While Louis C.K. did admit to this behavior, he’d already been ousted, so it wasn’t really a stand-up move. He didn’t find the error of his ways (publicly, at least) until the reports were published and consequences were setting. It’s probably better to teach kids and society as a whole to proactively take responsibility for your actions — not only when you’re caught. An apology can only fix so many things.