I guess better late than never. The first person to publicly respond to Frances McDormand’s call for the inclusion rider was Michael B. Jordan. Next to the party are Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, through their Pearl Street production shingle. Okay. Fine. If they want to be productive allies now, that’s fine. Let us not forget that they have shown their asses on multiple occasions and that they are still forming a cone of silence around Casey Affleck, but okay. You’re here now. You don’t get to lead the march, but you can pass out markers for sign-making. 

So what does this really mean? Well, Affleck and Damon are power producers, and their company, Pearl Street, is busy. They’ve got seventeen projects in development, including a John Krasinski project, a standalone Batfleck movie that will never happen, an RFK movie, and a television project from filmmakers Michael Cuesta and Gavin O’Connor. Taking on the inclusion rider is a genuinely good step, but it’s not clear if this is for EVERY project under their umbrella or just stuff they launch from today. 

For instance, let’s say that never-happening Batfleck movie actually happens, will Affleck push Warner Brothers to accept the rider on the film, since he is also producing? He’s one of their golden boys, I can’t imagine them fighting him, but you catch my drift. They’re going to have to get other producers, studios, and television networks to follow along. As Lainey mentioned, some are nervous the inclusion rider may prompt discrimination lawsuits. Two things are true: 1) Some asshole absolutely will try to sue over the inclusion riders, because that’s what assholes do, and 2) it won’t work. 

Why won’t it work? Because—and this is getting lost in the shuffle—the inclusion IS NOT A MANDATE. It is not an order to hire women and minorities to the exclusion of white men. It is a TARGET, a GOAL, something to strive toward, and there is nothing in the boilerplate language that says the suggested diversity percentages must be met. It’s basically encoding the NFL’s Rooney Rule for movies, combating unconscious bias by setting an outline for more inclusive hiring practices. At the end of the day, it’s just a suggestion. But it’s one that has the power to create progress and increase representation, and someone will inevitably yell “reverse discrimination” because some people are afraid of progress. Matt and Ben don’t want us to think they’re afraid of progress, so they are signing up for the inclusion rider. That’s good, but it does not erase their recent mistakes. It just creates a better path forward.