Twitter was in an uproar and even created the hashtag #Damonsplaining over ignorant, white comments Matt Damon made on the HBO special Project Greenlight. Here’s the breakdown.
Damon and his team were auditioning amateur directors for their first big break at making a movie as part of the Project Greenlight show. The film they’re developing, written by the Farrelly Brothers (two white guys), is a comedy starring a black prostitute that eventually gets slapped by her white pimp. Effie Brown points out that the screenplay could easily fall into exploitative stereotyping and suggests that the director should be a minority or a woman, or a combination, to handle the subject matter sensitively.
“That’s a valid concern,” interrupts Damon, “But diversity in filmmaking should be about what happens in front of the camera, not behind it.”
Highly intelligent and perceptive Brown was so shocked by his comments her response was a simple “Oh, wow.”
But the matter was not over. Matt takes the pains to further put demonstrate to viewers just how ignorant his comments are by adding, “If you let diversity concerns guide your choice of director,” he says, “It seems like you would undermine what the competition is supposed to be about, which is about giving somebody this job based entirely on merit.”
Is Matt essentially saying that there are no talented female or minority directors available to properly develop and handle this movie?
While Twitter went into a frenzy, many questions came up. Primarily, what on earth is going on in Matt Damon’s liberal mind and why would Project Greenlight not cut this embarrassing scene that clearly illustrates Matt’s white man ignorance? Perhaps the whole Project Greenlight team is just as ignorant as Matt Damon and thinks they’ve created a public service to minorities with their Damonsplaining message to the masses.
While looking into the previous Project Greenlight seasons, a stunning precedent is discovered:
Season 1: All-white, all-male judges select one white winning writer/director.
Season 2: All white male and one white female judge, selecting a winning female writer and a winning male director.
Season 3: All-white, all-male judges chose a winning writer and a winning director; both white male winners.
It appears that there is no talent in the industry outside of white males. And Damon’s comments bring up alarming questions about film business practices.
“This is strictly a film-making competition,” Damonsplained. This is far from the truth. The series was specifically created for access, not exclusively film-making skill. The whole point of the show is to give filmmakers who don’t ordinarily have a voice the opportunity to show their talent. And that means that behind-the-scenes diversity is a likely by-product.
As expected, it didn’t take long for Damon to issue an apology: “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.”
His apology is as misguided as his comments. Damon obviously doesn’t understand why the world has taken offense and is happy that he is proliferating the conversation that white men know best.