Matt Damon and Ben Affleck have an HBO series called Project Greenlight, which basically follows the behind-the-scenes process of film production and what hopeful writers/directors go through to get their projects onto the big screen. The fourth season of the series debuted on Sunday night, and things got awkward pretty quickly when Matt felt the need to shut down the only black woman at the table so he could explain diversity to her. God help us all.
Basically, Matt and Ben got together with a bunch of other producers, a group which only included one black woman – the wonderfully talented Dear White People producer Effie Brown. Their topic of discussion was some new comedy called Not Another Pretty Woman, which Flavorwire summarized as “girl leaves boy at the altar, boy falls in love with a black prostitute”. The black prostitute is the only black character in the entire film, so Effie brought up that a director of colour would likely be able to treat that role – which is problematic already – with the sensitivity it requires. Matt quickly shut that idea down and set her straight on what diversity is all about.
“When we talk about diversity — you do it in the casting of the movie, not in the casting of the show,” Matt mansplained/whitesplained. He also want on to claim that choosing a director must be based on “merit”. Because, you know, only white guys are good enough to make awesome movies!
Ironically, Brown actually was arguing about merit, positing that a female director like Kristen Brancaccio might work harder to not slut-shame a sex worker character. Damon’s response was to say that though “they look like one thing,” Brancaccio and her partner (a Vietnamese up-and-coming filmmaker named Leo Kei Angelos) “might end up giving us something that we don’t want.”
Damon is wrong for many reasons, not the least of which is that he’s enforcing a bad line of logic that keeps the film industry looking the same year after year. Hollywood has a problem with putting non-white, non-male artists behind the camera. In 2014, less than 2% of the year’s top 100 films were directed by women. Only five of the directors were black.
I mean, the fact that this even has to be explained is sad as shit, but whatever. White guys run Hollywood and they’d like to keep it that way. It’s sad that Damon is so close-minded and clueless, but he’s far from the only one. The fact that everyone else felt the need to jump in and suddenly be like, “Oh yeah, Effie has a point…” all half-heartedly afterwards because they knew they were being filmed was almost worse. So terrible.
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