Matt Damon Apologizes for Diversity Comments on ‘Project Greenlight’

Project Greenlight Finalists Pushed Back Against

Matt Damon’s comments on diversity during Sunday’s “Project Greenlight” premiere sparked controversy online, after it appeared as if the actor was dismissing a colleague’s concerns about the need for diverse hiring practices.

In a statement obtained by Variety, Damon apologized for causing offense, but noted that he was glad that the episode and his debate with fellow “Project Greenlight” producer Effie Brown could promote discussion about diversity in the industry.

Read Damon’s statement below:

“I believe deeply that there need to be more diverse filmmakers making movies. I love making movies. It’s what I have chosen to do with my life and I want every young person watching ‘Project Greenlight’ to believe that filmmaking is a viable form of creative expression for them too.

My comments were part of a much broader conversation about diversity in Hollywood and the fundamental nature of ‘Project Greenlight’ which did not make the show. I am sorry that they offended some people, but, at the very least, I am happy that they started a conversation about diversity in Hollywood. That is an ongoing conversation that we all should be having.”

In the season four premiere of “Project Greenlight,” Brown and Damon were among a number of producers who were attempting to decide which finalist would win the contest and go on to helm the chosen script for the season.

In a talking head segment, Brown (the only person of color in the group) admitted, “Diversity is very important to me; the films that I typically do are films about someone who’s outside of mainstream, and most times that’s women and people that are marginalized. A lot of times, growing up in the ’70s, there weren’t a lot of positive images of women and people of color, and that’s what I noticed growing up… we were gangsters, prostitutes, drug addicts, things of that nature. This is an opportunity where I can change that.”

While debating which finalist should be chosen to direct the film, Brown stumped for directing team Leo Angelos & Kristen Brancaccio (an Asian man and white woman), in part because Brancaccio flagged the stereotypical aspects of the only black character in the script, Harmony.

“I want to urge people to think about, whoever this director is, the way that they’re going to treat the character of Harmony, her being a prostitute — the only black person being a hooker who gets hit by her white pimp. You’re looking at this group right here, and who you’re picking, and the story that you’re doing, and I just want to make sure we’re doing our best-” Brown began, before Damon interjected.

“The only team that’s left with diversity is the team that announced that they liked this script the most as it is, and that’s Leo and Kristen,” Damon pointed out. “Everyone else had major problems with it, with exactly the things that you’re bringing up, and exactly the things that we brought up to each other. I think on the surface, they might look like one thing, but they might end up giving us something that we don’t want. And when we’re talking about diversity, you do it in the casting of the film, not in the casting of the show.”

Brown seemed visibly taken aback by Damon’s assessment, and responded, “Wow, okay.”

“Do you want the best director?” Damon asked.

“I’m not mad, but hang on… with love in my heart, even Leo and Kristen talked about… he said it was good having her because she has a different perspective that he wouldn’t even have thought about when talking about women — they did talk about it,” Brown noted, pointing out that the duo might approach the script with a different perspective from many of the other male directors in the contest.

Fellow executive producer (and the only other woman in the room) Jennifer Todd, who serves as president of Damon and Ben Affleck’s Pearl Street Films production company, admitted that the real problem was with the script itself, not whoever they hired to direct. “I have a problem with Harmony… everyone does, and I don’t look to just [the director] to fix that, I think we also have work to do, and they will do too.”

In a later talking head segment, Damon noted, “I’m glad Effie flagged the issue of diversity for all of us, because filmmaking should throw a broader net and it’s high time for that to change. But ultimately, if you suddenly change the rules of this competition at the eleventh hour, it just seems like you would undermine what the competition was supposed to be about, which is about giving somebody this job based entirely on merit, and leaving all other factors out of it. It’s just strictly a filmmaking competition. I think the whole point of this thing is that you go for the best director, period. This is what we have and this is what we have to choose, and the only thing I can go by is the work that they’ve done.”

Finalist Jason Mann was ultimately chosen as the winner of the contest.

Watch an edited portion of Damon and Brown’s conversation below.

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  1. urNeighbor says:

    Wow so this is where all the white comments live. Privileged much?

    • Mary says:

      “urNeighbor”, you are not being very neighborly. Why is it always about race? No answer will ever be right. When will things be right with you? When white people are gone?

      • Because it IS always about race, his apology is disingenuous. sorry if you got offended blabla, If there are no minorities at the helm, minorities will always be treated as less than. They can rise but only to a certain level because god forbid a white man feels threatened for a second. I say this as a white man, I`m tired of the bullshit patriarchy, it is real, it is palpable, it`s everywhere and people delude themselves thinking we live in post racial societies. We live in completely racist societies, she has to control her anger because god forbid a black woman gets angry on tv. It IS about race, how would you like it if whites were the minority in the US and you grew up watching white people in movies be portrayed only as hookers, pimps and criminals? Whitewashing is a thing, it is not clickbait, he should not play the lead in a movie about the Great Wall of China, Scarlett Johansoon is not japanese, nor is Emma Stone, and as much as I love her, Tilda Swinton is not Asian. This shit matters, these are examples we show our kids and they grow up thinking that this shit is ok, it`s not. People have to protest. It is not a coincidence that only white people think everything is hunky dory and minorities are the ones calling this shot out.

  2. Michael Jonas says:

    You know what? I 100% support Matt’s comments. It’s nice to have somebody standing up for our side.

  3. I don’t think Matt’s very articulate, but I -think- he’s trying to say that we shouldn’t replace the best director for the job simply because they might happen to be white. It’s more important to portray the story as it’s meant to be, with a diverse cast, than worry about the people behind the scenes who you won’t see anyway.

    I think Brown was trying to explain to Matt, “Yeah, but the people behind the scenes might have a better understanding of the story and characters in front of the camera because they come from a similar place ethnically”

    I don’t believe he’s racist, and I get both points. But his statement does reflect a lack of perspective.

    • Yeah cos Hollywood is run by white men because only white men are talented and a good fit for a job. that is some backwards ass reasoning he`s giving.

    • chuckl8 says:

      Any response to or comment about Matt Damon’s original comments must recognize the fact that it wasn’t something he had time to reflect upon and very carefully choose his words. Brown dropped her little hand-grenade during a discussion that was unrelated to her comments, or at best, only very slightly related.

      Since she already had a reputation for the disruption and side-tracking of any and all such discussions in order to either push her own agenda, or to simply put the spotlight on herself, Damon’s response contained more than a little exasperation plus a heavy and excusable “let’s move on” flavor. To now carefully dissect and criticize his quick response to her is very unfair.

  4. Solar rays says:

    My understanding of Matt’s diversity statement is that the best director will = the most open-minded person, the ‘best’ is synonymous with the diversity Effie is concerned about in choosing the best director.

  5. Matt’s implication that “diversity” has nothing to do with a director’s merit is patently false. An informed perspective shapes the portrayal of characters and the way a director elicits performance from the cast. They admitted in this episode that Jason’s work on the group project was mediocre. This exemplifies how a director’s merit is subjective. Who is to say that, with the same resources afforded to Jason, that Kristen and Leo would not have directed the project masterfully? Just because they had tact in how they critiqued the story doesn’t mean they didn’t see problems with it. Also find it curious how people are critizing Matt for apologizing to those who may have been offended while they are seemingly oblivious to how absurd it is to be offended by his apology.

    After (attempting to watch) Entourage last night – I never was a fan of the series – I’m reminded how shameful it is that we tolerate such debauchery by not diversifying in front of AND behind the scenes. Ashamed to see the industry represented like that – even in jest.

    • chuckl8 says:

      “Ashamed to see the industry represented like that – even in jest.” That’s hilarious, considering that the industry being discussed is essentially devoted to – very often – misrepresenting everything on the planet, and off, … sometimes even in jest.

      I’ll admit that moviemaking sometimes rises to an art-form, but not often, and certainly not often enough to act as if making movies is some sort of sacred profession, where every criticism must be carefully worded to avoid any misinterpretation.

      This whole thing reminds me of the nonsensical tag-line in The Player; “Movies; … now more than ever.”

      Or, more to the point: get over yourselves.

  6. Wayne says:

    Effie needs to get another job. I am the most liberal guy in the room, just about wherever I go – and she was just too much. Her personal agenda is not relevant to the end product. I loved the show, but couldn’t stand Effie after the first episode.

    • What does liberality have to do with common sense? Do you even know her? It’s ridiculous to judge a person based on an edited episode. Not very liberal either.

      • chuckl8 says:

        “It’s ridiculous to judge a person based on an edited episode.” While that’s true when just a few comments are edited out, in Effie Brown’s case, just about everything she said was bizarre. So, if what you say is accurate, there must be dozens pieces of her original dialogue in the “delete” file, all saying things like “I’m just kidding, of course”, and the like. And she’d be suing the crapola out of everyone involved.

        This is just one opinion of course, but I think she said exactly what she meant to say.

  7. loco73 says:

    Why did he apologise? Man…these apologies today have become like part of some kind of an assembly line industry of apologies!!! Somewhere, somehow, someone will always be offended. Especially these days when it seem everybody has become so thin skinned that anytime someone says something that is off or they don’t agree with, it must absolutely become the grounds for some profound apology and deep grovelling!!!

    Being offended has become a profession as has the predictable wave of on-line and social media reactions. The accompanying apologies ring just as hollow and empty as the perceived offence!

    Meanwhile when something really bad happens, real violence or incidents with real, substantive and long lasting consequences…what do you hear? Crickets…

  8. Tomas Augusto Vergara says:

    I don’t care who is behind the camera, as long as they have the intelligence to have diversity represented in a fair and just light, in front of the camera! We are not stereotypes or one dimensional people. We are can be heroic in a million ways and we are a big part of this society so have us represented proportionally, that is all!

  9. Wait…why is he apologizing? He’s right.

  10. John Brown says:

    So they finally forced Damon to apologize for not wanting to change the rules at the end and basically betray the entire concept of the project, and the entire concept of merit, in favor of racially motivated, reverse racist, politically correct nonsense. More left wing, divisive, polarizing, discriminatory, victim mentality, and Damon was unfortunately forced to bow to it with this apology. We are certainly living in a collapsing, declining, culture of mediocrity led by the arrogant, inept, incompetent we put into the White House.

  11. chuckl8 says:

    Effie Brown produces nothing but trouble in the Project Greenlight working environment, and it has nothing to do with color or gender. As a producer, her job is to stay within budget and timelines, and to work with the director to accomplish those goals. But the best, most efficient way to do that is to first understand why the director wanted a certain shooting location and why he wanted to shoot on film. Only then can a producer and director work together to find a suitable compromise.

    But Effie Brown doesn’t appear to have the slightest clue why Jason wants certain things, nor does she seem to have the slightest intention of learning why and reaching middle ground, at least according to the episodes to this point. Her only real goal seems to be succeeding in her little power-trip, regardless of the turmoil it causes. If I were in charge, she’d be out the door in a big hurry.

  12. Chris says:

    Why should he apologise? He’s right. Period.

    ‘Diverse hiring practices’ or ‘affirmative action’ is sexist and racist. Choosing someone based on sex or skin colour is discrimination unless it directly relates to the role.

    Libtards really are the most illogical, irrational, racist (anti-white), sexist (misandrist), intolerant hypocrites around.

    • David says:

      I was with you until the end there, where you totally lost the plot.

      You are aware that Matt Damon is a big time liberal, right? Like ‘super disappointed in the centrist, Barrack Obama type of liberal’, right?

      Then again, I wouldn’t expect anybody who turns names and monikers into insults, from either side of the isle (though it’s a predominantly and traditionally Conservative practice), to be able to come up with a coherent comment which is longer than a sentence in length.

      What makes it even worse is the lack of originality… ‘Libtard’ is probably typed over a million times a day throughout the internet, though (thankfully) chiefly on sites warning about FEMA camps, and Obama’s certain upcoming coronation to install himself as America’s permanent King. I wonder what’s taking him so long, though… don’t forget he still has to cull all of America’s guns, launch his youth re-education camps, institute Sharia, all while somehow finding time to do whatever it is that Anti-Christ’s are supposed to do. Now that’s a busy second term, right ConservaTARD!

      Gotta admit I nailed you at the end there…

  13. Ted says:

    There are two sides to this.
    1. “Diversity” is the new modern day replacement term for “Affirmative Action”.
    2. Damon and Affleck are two pompous arrogant d-bags of the highest order.

    • . says:

      @ted – i wouldn’t be too surprised at matt damon’s douchiness. anyone who’s 5’8″ but claims to be 5’10” has some overcompensation issues…

    • fkboi says:

      Damon is right actually. Why would you select the winner on the basis that they’re a minority? That’s fucked up

  14. Elizabeth says:

    Adding to what @MrPooni says-It’s also SO MALE!

  15. Michelle says:

    I’ve always respected Ben and Matt. But I’ve also noticed that every winner of Project Greenlight has been a white male. (Am I wrong?) You’ll never convince me that the best person for the job will always be a white male. Cast your net a little wider and open you eyes to “brown and yellow” talent guys!

  16. Seymour Hymen says:

    This was a ridiculous and bogus example of “white privilege” Damon merely disagreed and made a counter point to Brown’s point and instead of intelligently debating his counterpoint, she went with the “Wow! Okay..” as if she was being silenced. She seems to be a master manipulator and perpetrator of race baiting. She should become the Leni Reidfenstahl of Al Sharpton’s National Action Network.

  17. steveg700 says:

    It is amazing that many of the people posting comments here are blind to their own hypocritical double standard. They have convinced themselves that generalizations about race and gender are okay as long as you target “white boys” with them. Having your cake and eating it too, directing hate speech at a broad group of people while accusing others of small-mindedness. It’s bigotry for the 21st century.

  18. Frank Harris says:

    Hollywood just loves these racist, redneck pretty white boys (isn’t that right, Marky Mark, who beat up an Asian man during a hate crime when he was a teen). I have given up on Hollywood a long time ago. Nothing but a bunch of overpaid, privileged a-holes, who have no concept of what the world is really like. I pray that a massive earthquake will one day shear it off the face of the earth.

  19. James Miller says:

    MD owes more than an apology to RE and NPH and a lot of other actors. Perhaps he could do a “Tootsie 2” to demonstrate his own acting chops.. Perhaps he could make a point of hiring actors who represent the diversity of our country instead of the xenophobia of the bean counters. I for one am tired of these “insinuating’ comments done in mainstream outlets then apologized for on some obscure outlet. There is a confusion about shooting your mouth off and the sincerity of a genuine apology.

    • Austin says:

      How does saying that the contest should be chosen completely on merit without race as a factor make anyone other than the person saying that race should be THE factor the racist?

      If Matt Damon had said, “I think we all need to consider the fact that the Director we choose should also be white, and Male- because that is the audience I want to appeal to,” THAT would be racist.

      Which is essentially exactly what Effie was saying- the difference being that it was in favor of choosing based on race other than white. It’s insane to me how people can’t see past their own nose on that issue.

      It isn’t racist to say that someone is best suited to do a job, and the fact that he is white has nothing to do with it. The fact that we even have to TALK about what race he is makes it WAY more disgusting.

      He was easily the best director. If he happened to be black, and someone said, “yeah but guys…don’t we want to think about race while we pick a winner?”

      How wouldn’t that be SUPER RACIST?

      Effie plays the race card every chance she gets, instead of seeming to want to take personal responsibility.

    • THall says:

      I don’t think the apology was even necessary. This is a made up, non-issue of social justice BS. Matt Damon is not the enemy of diversity. Plus, not every story is meant to be representative of the entire country. These movies are stories about a sliver of time, events, etc. I’m sure you don’t go through your daily life with representatives of every race and gender each day.

  20. bon bon says:

    I think some of you are missing the point. I doubt very seriously that efie is insinuating that you shouldn’t pick someone with “merit”. Lolz diversity doesn’t cut out the fact that the person should be the best person for he job. In fact in many cases the best person for the job has not received the job because of his skin color. You guys are turning “equal opportunity” to meaning “hand outs”…. is this not the attitude of the privilege to shape the debate to fit their argument?

    • B. Leigh says:

      You are so full of crap. I love it when people like you assume what someone who assumes thinks. Again, blah, blah, crap, blah.

  21. C.B. Saracu says:

    I’m not sure how this is in any way offensive, beyond maybe showing Damon’s assumptions regarding the intentions of his colleague’s assessment. I read Damon’s comments several times. All he is saying is ‘merit should rule the day’, not immutable characteristics of the competing filmmakers. That being said, his comments are wrongheaded in that they show a complete misunderstanding of Brown’s perspective, which I believe centered not on the race and gender of his preferred team, but on their critical approach to writing and casting, which is in deed an issue of merit in the filmmaking industry. Is it offensive in that it seems to indicate Damon assumed Brown, a minority, was making a value judgment on race and gender? Ultimately I think Brown is right but Damon’s response should have started a conversation rather than merely producing offense. I’m not calling Damon dumb, but perhaps someone should have simply explained that Brown was in deed talking about merit in his assessment.

  22. Julius Goff says:

    I watched another episode of Project Greenlight and I said to myself, ‘Effie had the right to be angry at Jason for attempting to go over her “Budget” head — I’m one of those people that think film has a look that is hard to get using digital also (possible with additional tools) and good/great directors have always been strong-minded –it is, what got them there. However, I wish she would’ve kept her cool instead of looking like another angry black woman. I’m not just saying that because I am African American, but rather, because that was all everyone watching was going to see–her anger.

    • chuckl8 says:

      Without getting into the diversity debate, I wanted to comment on the “film v digital” debate. While I understand the director’s opinions regarding the look of film, it puzzles me why he would raise those objections during production of a movie that is only destined for HBO, and will never be shown undigitized, via a film projector. If he does shoot using film, it will be digitalized every step of the way until the viewer sees it. Besides that, and as mentioned in Project Greenlight, there are a number of facilities who can make digital look like film. I’ve worked with some of them and their product is excellent.

  23. Matt says:

    fyi..when you say “I’m sorry” my comments “offended some people,” you’re not really apologizing.

  24. dms3346@yahoon.com says:

    In the real world, it’s talent, drive, initiative that counts, particularly in the arts. Diversity, emphasis on, is an issue generally raised by those without adequate amounts of either. How many stellar minority actors are there? There are as many as had copious amounts of all of those qualities. How many caucasian “undiverse” actors are still sitting on the sidelines? Their skin color made no difference; a Will Smith, a Denzel Washington, an Andy Garcia all got parts that lesser actors of ANY background didn’t get, and it was because of greater amounts of those qualities predominating over the competition. Cream ALWAYS rises to the top; only those who aren’t cream cry out for “diversity” to a degree that it MUST become a politically correct mantra. It’s a cry for welfarism in an arena (the arts) where it’s always been ABILITY that consumers of art recognize and invest in without regard to race, religion, creed or color. This is not politically correct, okay? But you do a young artist a disservice when you ask him to harp on his ethnicity for success when the KEY INGREDIENTS are skill, talent, HARD WORK, and desire. Given purpose, the world opens its doors. Given propaganda by people with some other agenda than your success, all you get is a false philosophy (The world owes me!) and frustration. Work on your art and skill set, and to the devil with political correctness! Which in his own timid way, I think Matt Damon was trying to say before being crucified online.

  25. john says:

    The comments were wrong, but from my experience working 20 years in the 3 iatse crew locals, Ihave seen lots of diversity. If someone performs well, they get the job. Getting your foot in the door has always been friends and family in this business with many exceptions. A movie is always a gamble on making money, so you have to choose who will do the best job in my opinion. Unless you want to throw 3 million down the toilet.

    • Julius Goff says:

      I agree with Matt that casting is where the biggest change needs to be, but for someone like Brown, unlike the rest of us, gets a view of behind the films—so she, along with others that work behind the scenes, knows if those doing the hiring are hiring diversified film crews. I look at shows like Big Brother and see one African-American, one Asian-American, one Hispanic-American and think, ‘Seriously—they are suppose to have an opportunity to win this?’ And, it is always the question, “Do you want the best?” Although, most don’t have the financial ability or know the right people to accomplish to film at that particular quality. I can — I just don’t have the faculties to do so. That is why I wished they had their competition in two parts—choose best director and have a screenplay contest. Just as they have someone directing they could have someone to write the script. It would actually make the two work together.

      • Julius Goff says:

        To Activated:

        My point was—when we see films like Aloha that barely have any Polynesian actors someone is failing at their job. While I’m not saying the actors aren’t excellent entertainers, the casting could be more authentic. A Joel Edgerton, Sigourney Weaver, Liz Taylor playing Egyptians is a little far-fetched—John Turturro, Ben Kingsley, not so much (not saying they have to be Black, but at least look like they are from that region during that time. Also, I hadn’t seen the interaction between Damon and Brown. I was commenting on what I read—the part I agreed with. I added that Brown has a (view) vantage-point, which most people sitting at home or in theaters don’t have. She could best say what is going on because she is in the thick of it. I didn’t take it as Damon trying to school the Black woman on diversity, but rather him agreeing with her adding that they should be more focused on the front-side of the camera. I didn’t think he had any mal-intent when he commented. The Fast & Furious franchise has made a point of casting excellent actors, but some of its success is due to the fact they diversified the cast. They made the people in it authentic and gave everyone someone they could, in some aspect, relate to. In conclusion, when I said anyone watching Big Brother who is not of European-descent doesn’t see anyone winning other than someone of European descent is because (just as in most cases) the odds are already stacked against them.

      • Activated says:

        Mr Goff – I have a feeling there is a valid point hiding somewhere in your excruciatingly convoluted comment. Perhaps you could find the time to extract it for us?

  26. Cape911 says:

    Joe Variety
    Sucks to be you!

  27. Joe Variety says:

    God forbid you have a contest base solely on merit. Effie tried to introduce Affirmative Action into it, and made her decision based on gender and skin color. Matt based his decision on the quality of work. It’s too bad that Matt had to remember that he is a hardcore liberal and apologize. He was 100% correct to call Effie on her B.S. Social Justice.

  28. B. Leigh says:

    Matt Damon is entitled to his opinion just like anyone else. People are tired of the diversity issue. It is ‘How come a black person never gets a good role’, ‘When is a black person going to win an Oscar’, ‘Why aren’t there more black people in higher job positions’, blah, blah & blah. Why when black people talk about what they think should be theirs just because their black do they not realize that they are in essence asking for something ‘just because’. One never hears the other races complain. Especially they never complain that they are not being included in the diversity issue. At issue is the fact that it seems these greasy wheels continually separate themselves from everyone else. Why can’t they just be Americans? People are tired of hearing how they suffer every day. Even the President and his wife joined in. “I was mistaken for a salesperson”. Who hasn’t been! Just give the role and anything else to the most deserving and not based on anything else. Let people do their jobs without this constant ‘you owe me’ attitude. Matt Damon does not owe anyone an apology for what he thinks.

    • Jay says:

      Have you ever been marginalized for the color of your skin? Until you have to defend your basic civil rights will you understand that not everything is based on merit. Look up, “white privilege” and open your mind. Be careful coming down from your high horse.

      • simple says:

        It doesn’t matter what your race happens to be, when you make that comment, you show an ignorance to the issue at hand.

      • Joe Variety says:

        Ahh the old argument “You can’t possibly understand so just take our word for it”. nonsense.

      • B. Leigh says:

        Jay, Jay, Jay, are you assuming I’m white? Are you assuming my high horse is white? Are you assuming my opinion is wrong because you assume I am white? That it has no value? How much is enough Jay? Where is the individuals responsibility in this mammoth pile of constant whininning? This squeekie wheel has had more than its share of grease. Shut up all ready.

  29. Alisa martin says:

    You shouldn’t be judge by the color of your skin. The color of your skin does not define who you are or what job you are qualified for. I want to be seen as a woman first, a human being, the essence of me, my characteristics, my God give soul to get me that job based on my own”Merit.” The creative process should be based on the individual who best suites the script and the writers vision. The tone and mood of the film has to fit with the actor like a glove. If they happen to be black, purple, green, brown, red, who is the best person for the role? This is a business and you don’t want to compromise any aspect of the creative process or an actor’s talents, based merely on ” Diversity”. Stick with he facts and with what is in front of you and make honest choice with what you have. I believe Idris Elba would be great as James Bond, he has a different essence than all the other James Bond character.

    Mr Damon married to a woman who is from Argentina with four daughters. That is the essence of Diversity.

  30. The director and producers should be whoever does the job the best. Concentrating on getting a black/asian/hispanic director could leave you with someone unfit to do the movie justice. If the best happens to be black, great. But we shouldn’t turn away the best because they might happen to be white. As a black man, I find it HIGHLY insulting that people suggest that you should hire a minority just because they are a minority. It says that you think that minorities can’t make it unless they get undue consideration. That’s why what this woman said incenses me to no end.

    • Steve says:

      That’s not the suggestion of most of the posts and the public outcry. It’s the fundamental misunderstanding of diversity, as expressed from Damon’s position of privilege.

  31. Chris Clay says:

    Ben and Matt are two mediocre guys with limited talent who were lucky enough to meet Gus Van Sant, who completely overhauled their script and gave them a shot. They are clueless about the business and prejudices in the industry. It’s only fitting they decided to help another white man, who appears to be a complete Ahole.

  32. As an independent writer and publisher, Mr. Damon’s ‘apology’ reeks of disdain and underlying contempt. Always remember Mr. Damon, that golden statue that validates hard work and skill,sometimes finds it way through obscure scripts, books, and plays,many of which are written by people of color. Hollywood is becoming smaller and smaller because of the rapid advancements of movie-making technology as well as increasingly innovative ways to share these works with the online community.
    As many writers,I too have several books making the rounds in Hollywood to be optioned. When your name comes up, I will be sure to remember your stance on diversity. My team and I will instead allow another actor of more ‘merit’, whom understands that acting, by nature, is spiritual ‘diversity’ in its purest form, delving beneath the skin of a character,splicing through numerous preconceived notions and stereotypes, finally revealing the true essence of a what a human being goes through in today’s multicultural climate.
    That is what TRUE casting is about in the 21st century; choosing actor(s) based on their explicit understanding of said characters,how they interpret these fictional individuals, giving them life and a beating heart,BUT also understanding that our final decisions will represent REAL people,ideas,whole demographics that will hopefully enjoy our efforts.

    Thoughtful casting based on creativity,integrity and genius – that is the Hollywood I want to belong to.

    There are MANY that feel the same way as I do,rising in the ranks.

    • David says:

      Given this little insight into your writing ability and depth of thought, it is cute that you think Matt Damon will one day be clamoring for a role in one of your sure to be upcoming self-published-hackneyed-novels-turned-blockbuster-hollywood-films!

      To others: You’ve gotta read the comment I’m replying to, and then click on his name for a link to his twitter account. The best comedy is always unintentional.

      Remember folks: “1920’s ‘Jim Crow’ South and North Carolina can be dangerous depending on your skin color or how much money one (sic) has in the bank.” Then “Meet the two half brothers, blood thirsty killers, who just might save YOUR ass”.

      Yup, Damon’s gonna be gutted to learn you’ve blackballed him.

  33. THall says:

    Did anyone actually watch this episode of the show? I’m not talking about this 30 second clip, or the soundbite headlines for these hack writers to get people to read their work, I’m talking about the show.

    This is a contest! This isn’t an issue of race or to pick which one of the contestants are merely qualified. Clearly, they are all qualified in some way, otherwise they wouldn’t have made it this far in the contest. However, the objective of Damon and the PG team is to select the BEST one…regardless of race, gender, etc etc etc. To suggest otherwise is in and of itself, racist.

    Damon’s point is you don’t pick the winner of the contest based on race and/or gender alone. That would be like having 8 sprinters in the Olympics competing in the 100m whereas 7 of them are african-america and 1 is white and giving it to the white guy to have diversity on the podium.

    • Nobody is saying that he should pick someone not based on merit. People are trying to suggest that there maybe implicit racial biases that drive who they pick. I.E., it’s *not* actually a meritocracy. If it were, then we’d conclude that white men are simply far and away better filmmakers. That’s not the case.

      • THall says:

        Ugh! Nobody is also saying that white men are the better filmmakers either. However, this is a CONTEST! This is simply a group of people who entered. Don’t you think it’s possible that the best person…that entered…in this case…just happened to be a white male?

        Are you even commenting on what happened in the episode? Did you even see it? You, along with many others, are extrapolating a bigger issue where there isn’t one, not in this case.

    • Steve says:

      I watched it, and people are not reacting to who he picked but to his privileged view of diversity and defending a supremacist industry he has a role in changing.

      • THall says:

        You’re probably running in the wrong circles then Steve. If you’re really passionate about diversity issues, I suggest you move on to a real one. This one is minor leagues.

      • Steve says:

        You can attack me as much as you’d like. “Privileged” is the word is used in many circles to describe the behavior. We’ll agree to disagree.

      • THall says:

        That’s great Steve…keep saying “privileged” more. Don’t worry, it’s really not making your argument seem like you’re bitter at something else besides this.

        Kidding aside – you’re taking this situation and blowing it completely out of control. This just isn’t what you think it is.

      • Steve says:

        I disagree. It’s the old model of the industry seeing this as a non issue has caused the reaction. It’s happening throughout all of the arts now. The issue is racial and gender parity…and lack of awareness by those in privilege.

        The Damon thing will die down. But its another in a series of privileged oversights that are being called out. The activist movement around these issues is not going away; it is getting stronger.

      • THall says:

        Steve – maybe that’s because the “public outcry” that you speak of is without merit in and of itself.

        This is a non issue.

      • Steve says:

        Again, the public outcry is not about the imperative to pick a person of color or break the rules of the P.G. contest, but rather Damon’s lack of awareness of diversity while sitting in a position of privilege. His so-called pr-enhanced apology made it worse.

      • THall says:

        Sorry, I just don’t believe that’s true. Suggesting that he should just consider a person of diversity simply based on that alone and not based on whether they are the best one to win a contest, is irresponsible.

  34. Strongforu says:

    Matt Damon’s comments are fully representative of the systematic oppression that is taken for granted I. This country. White privilege at it’s worst. #shameful #amerikkka

  35. brown bomber says:

    I think the saddest thing about this from a personal perspective. Is that Matt Damon, is married to woman ‘Latin American’ origin/heritage, by what ever definition you would like to call it. So it feels like he is by his own omission, he is paying ‘lip service’ to diversity by lack of further thought on what his fellow panellist was getting across.

    He, himself is forgetting that his own daughters will be, by the definition of diversity in ‘Hollywood’, be judged for example “if they wanted to be directors or writers’ as ‘female’ directors or writers.

    So he should be laying the ground work for a change to that definition!

    It’s great that he helps people in ‘third’ world settings get water, they so verily need.

    But remember after you have watered and feed them, they need nourishment creatively and intellectually. This is generally found in a JOB!

    That JOB in turn could be in, the said creative industry, that currently lacks diversity!

  36. Jill says:

    Both Affleck and Damon are clearly pompous a-holes. Period.

  37. Alley says:

    That was an apology?? Damon is seriously arrogant and no man who appeared in “We Bought A Zoo”, “Promised Land”, “Monuments Men” and “Hereafter” can allow themselves the luxury of arrogance.

  38. Mary says:

    I thought these Hollywood bleeding-heart lefties were all about diversity. This clown doesn’t even know what diversity is. Typical Hollywood hypocrite.

  39. Jude says:

    I think he made it worse, not better.

  40. Beckie says:

    Another over-privileged white guy who got where he is because he’s an over-privileged white guy. He probably STILL doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about.

  41. Michael Aldridge says:

    Anyway you slice it, Mr. Damon’s comment was sophomoric at best.

  42. Donna says:

    Damon/affleck = Douchebags

  43. Chris says:

    Sorta’ reminds me of when homophobes insist they know what being gay is all about, or men telling women what it’s like to give birth.

  44. 85wzen says:

    Another weird sorta apology, it sure isn’t about letting ANYONE in, it’s about keeping everyone OUT. That’s all there is…

  45. Petra says:

    “Diversity” is countering discrimination with more discrimination. How is this not obvious? Enough already.

    • Steve says:

      Not true; it’s about inclusion of those who are usually shut out, because whites usually occupy a privileged space and speak from it, taking it for granted.

    • Darnelle says:

      Well said. People need something to complain about. To even suggest that we as a nation havn’t moved forward from certain wrongs is embarrassing. Makes people look ignorant.

  46. rob branch says:

    let me understand,,So is this about finding the best or the best minority? If its about finding the best minority why even permit whites to compete.Hmm. Discrimination can not be defeated by Discrimination.

  47. Steve says:

    “I apologize but I’m glad I started the conversation about diversity, seeing as how I am the white sage who started the revolution.”

    Kind of how Ani DiFranco apologized a few years back with her righteous retreat weekend canceled for racial insensitivity, then had to re-apologize because her fundamental lack of understanding the issue.

    It’s a tough moment in the life of a supremacist to admit that something’s not about him. #Damonsplaining

  48. Joy says:

    It is 2015 and a mainstream corporation is choosing to put millions behind a script (which all involved admit isn’t strong) which is described as a “broad comedy about a white guy accidentally marrying a black prostitute.” Who do you think will want to direct that script? Who do you think will want to watch that film? The choice of the script dictates who will be willing/able to direct it. Just what the world needs: another “comedy” about a sex worker.

  49. Carol says:

    What is his definition of merit? Mine would include the director’s cultural sensitivity to the role of the only black character in the film who is a prostitute. Obviously you look at the totality of the director’s ability but that can be done without automatically dismissing Ms. White’s concerns as a diversity discussion that is not relevant to the show. If there is a black prostitute in the film, then their portrayal is a valid issue that should be taken into consideration when evaluating a director’s “merit.”

    • Joe Variety says:

      So can films not have a black prostitute anymore? Do all prostitutes have to be white? Do all black roles have to be positive? Or does there have to be equal numbers of positive and negative roles for every skin color? Or maybe we just shouldn’t allow white people in movies at all…Well actually, lets just stop making movies all together. It’s just too offensive to your sensitivities.

    • Deborah says:

      Amen. I saw the episode and thought that they were the directing team that had specific comments about the script. But the interviewers (Damon, Affleck and team) did not pause to take it in. As a result, they lost an opportunity to hear a perspective on what is wrong with the script and how to fix it.

      I won’t go into the #mansplaining he did when he interrupted Effie Brown. Perhaps he should go have a chat with Eric Schmidt about that little episode.

      What I also don’t get is Damon/Affleck’s lack of fiduciary responsibility – part of their job as producers. Research has shown over and over and over again that having a diverse board, diverse leadership and a diverse set of employees is improves financial returns. That means the producers, who must hire this team, need to build it in.

      It is logical to conclude that Damon/Affleck really can’t understand what merit in these circumstances really are. That team may have hit on the key to solving the problem that everyone else had with the script. But he couldn’t hear it. He didn’t start *any* conversation – he shut one down just when he needed it to make the damn film he’s producing better. And that’s just ignorance – and crappy producing – in action.

      • THall says:

        Deborah – yes I believe we might have to agree to disagree. Ha!

        Although, I will say, I don’t disagree with most of what you said. I think I am always sensitive to the world getting too politically correct about every issue that comes up. I just believe this issue has been blown completely out of proportion, by a person who I’m pretty sure, does more “good” than “bad” in Hollywood (it’s all relative, right?).

        I think I understand what others see, but when I watched it I don’t see that at all.

        So, just in the context of what happened (without bringing outside influences in) I think Damon tried to squash the notion that PG would consider letting a team win just based on their race and gender alone. I will admit, however, that he didn’t do that well. He seemed to bulldoze over her a bit but I don’t believe that had anything to do with race. I sit in meetings all the time where this happens to everyone. Trust me, I’ve seen men and women of all races shut someone down in a meeting (as I’m sure you have as well). That doesn’t mean they have an issue with their race or gender, it usually means they passionately disagree with them. In this case, Damon is more of a “boss” type because the show and results are far more a reflection on him, than they are on Effie. So, he takes that role on and shuts down her suggestion.

        Again, if we’re going to have an argument (we – meaning, society) about this encounter, it would be far more accurate to call it Jerks in the Workplace or Mean Bosses!

        I do agree that perhaps the process itself is flawed, but I don’t think Matt Damon is the enemy of diversity. I think there are many more and far better examples in Hollywood. To be honest too, I can’t believe I’m somehow defending Matt Damon, when I typically disagree with most of his opinions. Ha!

        Good discussion!

      • Deborah says:

        @Thall – We’re probably going to agree to disagree – and thanks for keeping it on the high road.

        I would never say that Matt Damon is consciously against diversity, In fact, I think it’s quite the opposite. Nor in this instance would hearing out the directorial contestants guaranteed to have solved the problem. What it does show is how pervasive certain behavior is in our culture – and behavior that I would not have expected out of this team.

        What I tried to do, apparently not so successfully, was to point out the unconscious biases that we all carry and the impact that they can have. Because I’ve been on the receiving end of these biases, perhaps I’m even showing one of my unconscious biases right now. (Side bar – seriously, I sat in a union meeting a month ago and hear about a department head who said in front of his team, all male, except for one female day-player, “I don’t hire women.” It’s 2015. And we wonder if the ACLU has a case??? If it is my bias, then I’m the one owing the apology.)

        Which was why my jaw dropped much as Effie’s did when I was watching the show. I believe it’s quite unconscious on Damon’s part, and I believe it to be the source of most of the discrimination that riddles the industry. The Eric Schmidt reference was intentional. After kicking off a whole bunch of diversity and unconscious bias training at Google, he still got caught out practicing the very behaviors they are advocating eliminating in front of 2000 people at SXSW this year. It’s a tough nut to crack – but to crack it, we do have to call it out when it’s demonstrated.

        Like everyone else here who has (civilly) commented, I want the best director to win this thing. I’m still curious to see what happens in the hands of the selected director. I was just trying to get at – again, maybe not so well – some of flaws in their process that may lead to lost opportunity. That opportunity is not just for the director, but also for the film both creatively and financially, for their team, and for the film-making community.

        So, no, I don’t think he’s being called out unfairly. Neither was Eric Schmidt. Nor does it make him a bad person – it makes him human, and he needed some schooling.

      • THall says:

        Deborah – that is good perspective to have but I wouldn’t assume that hearing more of the writers vision for the script really has anything to do with the apology, so I can’t imagine why it would have come out as a result (if it did in fact happen).

        Either way, the broader issue isn’t that they didn’t listen to the vision from the writing/directing team, but it’s that somehow Damon is being unfairly accused of being “against” diversity. I simply don’t agree with that sentiment in the context of this situation.

      • Deborah says:

        @THall – Yes, I do. I’m well aware that there may have been footage cut. Had there been footage that covered the topics I discusses, I’m sure it would have been released with the apology. However, after decades in this business, the fact that it wasn’t included leads me to concluded that having alternative perspectives were NOT included in their consideration of merit.

      • THall says:

        You do realize there’s a slight chance WE as an audience never heard them explain because the show was edited right?

    • Melissa says:

      Agreed.

  50. John Miller says:

    You know now, that if you’re in Hollywood and you’re white and male, people are going to want to label you as anything from racist to out of touch. They invited Effie Brown onto the show, and that’s what they got: someone who wanted to label Damon and/or Affleck with the now-standard racist/out-of-touch brush. That’s what you get for inviting someone like Brown on the show. Having her on the show was the real mistake that Damon made, instead of what he said.

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