Matt Damon Attempts To Talk About Diversity, Gets Everything Wrong

by kaya payseno

Dear Matt Damon,

Contrary to what your apology would imply, you didn’t start a conversation about diversity. You tried to shut down a conversation about diversity that Effie Brown started.



Ok, a little context.

Damon received criticism for comments he made about diversity to Producer Effie Brown on his returning HBO documentary series ‘Project Greenlight’ in which aspiring directors compete to direct a feature film for HBO. During the judging panel’s discussion of their top pics Brown suggests that diversity should be considered when selecting a winner, especially because of the context of the proposed film which has its only person of color playing a prostitute who is abused by her white pimp. This suggestion following Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s top picks for directors being the same four white dudes. Disagreeing with Damon and Afflecks’s top picks in favor of a directing team with gender and racial diversity apparently meant Brown was indulging the appearance of diversity over actual merit.

Damon responded with “When we’re talking about diversity, you do it in the casting of the film, not in the casting of the show.” By “show” Damon is referring to the casting of his docu-series ‘Project Greenlight.’ And it looks like he wasn’t kidding considering the all-white panel he assembled, with the exception of Brown, to select the director. A director who will then be in charge of casting a film which has only one person of color. So if the script remains the same where is this diversity step supposed to happen if not behind the scenes? And if the director will be the star of ‘Project Greenlight’ it makes sense that the panelists would consider the personal experience of each contestant AKA what makes them unique or hmm, idk DIVERSE.

Damon goes on to pose the question “do we want the best director or…?”

He trails off and we can guess the other side of that or is: or do we want diversity (Because diversity and quality are mutually exclusive?)

The show then cuts to Damon whitesplaining that diversity is well and good BUT! BUT! BUT! giving a job based on merit is more important.

Again pitting diversity against quality.

So what we’ve learned today folks is that we shouldn’t consider an artist’s personal experience as a merit because it is not fair to white dudes.

Watch the exchange here:

Image via


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