Oscar-winning Matt Damon apologized for downplaying the importance of diversity in film while judging the HBO reality show Project Greenlight, where the directors are given a first time to film.
The actor said in a statement to Variety:
“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.”
The actor and director’s original comments came during a discussion about whom would be chosen to direct the film that will be made as part of the HBO reality series.
Producer Effie Brown reclaimed her support for a assembling such a team of women and an Asian man as the best equipped to handle a sensitive role in the film, according to CNN.
“I just 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.”
Rapidly, Damon put down the chosen the race of the director stating:
“When we’re talking about diversity, you do it in the casting of the film not in the casting of the show.”
Brown then stated:
“Hoo. Wow. OK.”
The actors comments prompted harsh responses with offensive terms such as “whitesplaining” or “damonsplaining.” These terms refer to a white man expounding a black female on diversity.
Brittney Cooper, a professor of women’s and gender studies at Rutgers University, stated:
“The white men sitting on the sofa with Effie Brown, Matt Damon being chief among them, could not stomach the proposition that their whiteness created critical blind spots that would prevent them from telling the story of a Black female prostitute with dignity and care.”
While Damon’s apology wasn’t especially well received, Brown tweeted Tuesday that she was happy that the conversation was happening.
The apology was not taken lightly but Brown tweeted on Tuesday stating:
“Ooof! Wow! Okay. Thank you for watching the show and getting a great conversation started. I can’t wait to hear you on the other episodes!”