This past Sunday Matt Damon came under fire for comments made on the premiere episode of HBO’s “Project Greenlight”. The reality show and contest in one centers around producing a $3 million dollar movie project. The film being made is one that involves a black female prostitute in an abusive relationship with her white pimp. This plot sets the stage for the eventual diversity conversation with black female producer Effie Brown that ended up causing so much controversy. So what was said? First off the conversation is obviously edited as the words don’t flow with a natural dialogue, both parties appear to have been cut off. Here is the clip that got everyone so excited:
“I just would want to urge people to think about whoever this director is, the way that they’re going to treat the character harmony, that her being a prostitute, the only black person, being a hooker who get’s hit by her white pimp.”
“We brought up to each other, so I think on the surface they look like one thing but they might end up giving us something that we don’t want. When we’re talking about diversity, you do it in the casting of the film not in the casting of the show.”
“Hoo, wow, okay.”
Since the airing of the episode Matt has said that his full comments weren’t aired and that he had also said:
“Ultimately and suddenly if you change the rules of this competition at the 11th hour, it 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. This is strictly a film making competition.”
Today he issued the following written statement.
“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.”
Many are touting this as an apology but if you ask me this doesn’t seem much like an apology at all. This seems to be a non-apology to only placate detractors. Is what Matt said so wrong? Are Matt’s statements simply wrong because he is a powerful, straight, white male? He is after all heading up a massive project that centers around making a movie with a black female lead. Could all this criticism cause Matt to now steer clear of such diverse projects in the future and end up distancing an ally? Tell us what you think in the comments.