Sunday night was the season premiere of HBO’s Project Greenlight. The series, now in its fourth season, is the brainchild of megastars and super besties Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. If you are unaware of the show’s mission, the Boston bros want to give first-time filmmakers a boost by producing their films. The series provides a behind-the-scenes glimpse of their selection process and decision making when it comes to finding the right cast and crew.
In Sunday night’s episode, Damon was seen interrupting successful film producer Effie Brown when she expressed her concerns surrounding the lack of diversity in regards to the film they are producing. Brown, a black woman who was behind the indie hit Dear White People, stated that due to the fact that the only person of color in the film was a prostitute, perhaps they should look into bringing some diversity to the other side of the camera.
While Brown was discussing this and suggesting that they perhaps lean towards a more ethnically diverse director for the film — she actually was OK with the script and didn’t think it had to be changed — Damon stopped her dead in her tracks to let her know just what diversity in film truly meant. “When we talk about diversity, you do it in the casting of the film, not the casting of the show,” said the Good Will Hunting star. Brown’s reaction said it all, as she simply muttered “wow” with a look of disbelief on her face.
While the broadcast included another segment with Damon saying he valued Brown’s opinions and thought she definitely made a good point by bringing up the issue of diversity, he still concluded it by saying that whoever they choose will be selected by merit only. As one would expect, the optics of a highly successful and well-known white male shutting down a black female and explaining race to her were not well received by some. Jezebel’s Kara Brown took Damon to task for essentially saying that everything is fine as long as you toss a few token roles in films to minorities.
Just so we’re clear, Matt Damon thinks that diversity in Hollywood amounts to simply hiring people of color to be in the movies—not allowing them any power to make the movies themselves.
He doesn’t seem to grasp the concept—and stay with me here, because this is a CUH-razy idea—if you hire diverse filmmakers, the movies will probably end up being diverse. You don’t actually have to pick one or the other.
Others took to social media to rip Damon for playing the part of white liberal patronizing d-bag.
“Hi black woman. I know you don’t get many chances to speak uninterrupted, so let me say something about diversity briefly” – Matt Damon
— Zoé S. (@ztsamudzi) September 14, 2015
Ha, that clip of Matt Damon talking about ‘diversity’ is a great example of why inequality persists in America, regardless of ideology. — r. (@Are0h) September 14, 2015
after watching Matt Damon mansplain how diversity works to the producer of Dear White People pic.twitter.com/328mRLwtNZ
— Ryan Broderick (@broderick) September 14, 2015
To clarify, this is Matt Damon trying to school the producer of Dear White People on diversity in Hollywood. Irony overload. — Glen Coco (@MrPooni) September 14, 2015
“Well actually, let me tell you how diversity should work, only black woman in the room.” – Matt Damon
— Ferrari Sheppard (@stopbeingfamous) September 14, 2015
I love Matt Damon, but when a person of color in the industry talks about diversity, he needs to shut up and listen. And then help.
— Charles Clymer (@cmclymer) September 14, 2015
There are going to be a lot of people who look at Matt Damon quite differently from now on. I will be one of those.