Between Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, usually it’s Ben Affleck who’s the f-ckup, right? We know Ben to be the sloppy one. His personal life is all drama and he swings between comebacks and messes. Matt Damon, on the other hand, has enjoyed a much better reputation. He’s presumably more stable. He doesn’t hang out in casinos. The MiniVan Majority adores him for his wholesome image. And you know the MiniVan Majority. They wouldn’t care about Matt Damon defending whitewashing in a movie nor would they care about this:
Matt Damon speaking over the only black person in the room so he can explain diversity to her is SO WHITE it hurts pic.twitter.com/iaQStYZ0ij— Glen Coco (@MrPooni) September 14, 2015
Will they care about how he’s contributing to the conversation around sexual harassment in the industry? Probably not. But do you?
Matt Damon worked with Harvey Weinstein and when that story broke he insisted he didn’t know and that he never saw anything happen at any parties. (Because sexual harassment always occurs when a room full of witnesses is present, obviously.) Matt Damon is also a very close friend of Casey Affleck, alleged sexual harasser. Now Matt Damon is promoting Downsizing. And during his interview with Peter Travers, he was asked about sexual misconduct in Hollywood and how Hollywood can move forward from the rot that’s been exposed in the community. Please click here to either watch the video or read the transcript. Or both. Because the way I see and read it, there’s no room for different interpretations. And it really gives us a lot of insight into how much more we all have to do.
Take, for example, what he says about Louis CK. Matt Damon read Louis CK’s apology and did not see it as problematic. Here’s how many woman read Louis CK’s apology:
So that Louis CK statement uses the words "admired," "admiration," "power" or "powerful" in reference to him five times and includes the words "sorry" or "apologize" zero times.— Bonnie Stiernberg (@aahrealbonsters) November 10, 2017
Matt Damon read Louis CK’s apology and was like, oh yeah, it was good, we can work with it. And then, he goes on to insist that we need to delineate between rape and other grossness, which is what Louis CK falls under, “other grossness”, and from there, it’s this:
“I’ve never met (Louis CK). I’m a fan of his, but I don’t imagine he’s going to do those things again. You know what I mean? I imagine the price that he’s paid at this point is so beyond anything that he — I just think that we have to kind of start delineating between what these behaviors are.”
The price he’s paid? The price Louis CK has paid?!
If we’re looking at this situation in terms of the price that Louis f-cking CK has paid, we’re not getting anywhere at all. And this goes right back again to Rebecca Traister’s essay that I linked to in yesterday’s open because the point is not to talk about how one man’s actions are worse than another’s, the point is to understand that all of these actions originate from the same place and that the consequence of these actions result in stolen opportunities, primarily for women, reinforcing the gender inequality that persists in every segment of society.
That’s the price that Louis CK’s victims had to pay. Which was to not sign with a certain manager, not apply for certain writing jobs on certain shows that were connected to Louis CK and his manager, and or not pursue comedy in a man’s world. THAT’s the price of payment that we should be talking about. Louis CK may not have raped anyone. He may have “just” pulled his dick out and jerked off in front of his colleagues, but in doing so, he violated their careers, he limited the choices they could make in their careers. That’s years of work and creative potential that is lost forever. But all Matt Damon – and frankly many others – can fixate on is differentiating between a dick pull and a sexual assault. And who does that benefit? It certainly doesn’t benefit women.
Nor does it benefit women when Matt Damon – encouraged by Peter Travers, it should be noted – spends the next several minutes justifying how someone could continue to work with a man like Harvey Weinstein who has such a skeevy reputation. As IF that’s the priority here. But sure. Let’s definitely keep the conversation going in that direction because it’s so helpful. And when it came time to talk about what will change in Hollywood in light of all these sexual harassment allegations, how the WORKPLACE might be improved, you know what Matt Damon is predicting? This is what Matt Damon wanted to talk about:
“I also think the day of the confidentiality agreements is over. I think it’s just completely over. Ten years ago, you made a claim against me and I had a big movie coming out, OK? I have $100 million or I have a movie that is personally important to me coming out, and close to the release of that film, you say, “Matt Damon grabbed my butt and stuck his tongue down my throat.” We would then go to mediation and organize a settlement. I’d go, “I don’t want this out there. Peter’s going to go out and talk to the press and run his mouth, and it’s going to be overshadowing the opening of this movie. How much money do you want?” The lawyers would get together, and they do this cost-benefit analysis, and they’d go, “Oh, this is what it’s worth.” And I look at the number and go, “OK, I’ll pay it, but you can never talk about this again. You’re f------ lying by the way, but never talk about this again.
Now … with social media, these stories get — it’s like they get gasoline poured on them. So the moment a claim is made, if you make that same claim today to me, I would be scorched earth. I’d go, “I don’t care if it costs $10 million to fight this in court with you for 10 years, you are not taking my name from me. You are not taking my name and my reputation from me. I’ve worked too hard for it. And I earned it. You can’t just blow me up like that.” So I think once a claim is made, there will no longer be settlements. That’s just my prediction, I mean, just based on what I’ve seen.”
Well, there’s your Casey Affleck defence. You know, in case you were wondering what Matt Damon’s first response would be. “You’re f-cking lying” is pretty telling, non?
Which is why Peter Travers tries to save him here, with this follow-up question:
Isn’t that a good thing? Women have been doing it, and they’ve been told they can’t express what happened to them.
And of course Matt jumps back in to be all like, yes, yes, we have to listen to and believe women. But Matt, thirty seconds ago you were just describing a situation where “you’re f-cking lying” is your reaction! Does Matt Damon seem like in this interview that he’s preoccupied with the plight of sexual harassment victims? Or does it seem like he’s more invested in how to protect people who are gross but not technically rapists and those who’ve been falsely accused of sexual harassment?!
This is why people have been smashing their heads into their desks the last few weeks. He’s that guy in your office who, during a discussion about sexual harassment, is worried that he can’t flirt with a woman in a bar anymore. THAT is the priority. THAT is the problem.
Seriously, watch this interview. Or at least read the transcript. Maybe cancelling Matt Damon isn’t the answer, but can we all agree he needs some more training?