During Sunday’s episode of HBO’s Project Greenlight, director and actor Matt Damon thought he’d shed some light on diversity. But many people thought he failed to grasp the concept as he overtalked black film producer Effie Brown.
In picking directors for a comedy about a black prostitute and her pimp, Brown felt that having directors of a diverse background would benefit the film. But Damon felt that diversity for Not Another Pretty Woman was already accomplished in the casting.
“I would want to urge people to think about—whoever this director is, how they’re going to treat the character of Harmony,” she said, “the only black character, who’s a hooker who gets hit by her white pimp.”
“When we’re talking about diversity, you do it in the casting of the film, not in the casting of the show,” Damon replied.
Those comments left Brown pretty speechless, and Damon in hot water with many of his fans.
Damon is now speaking out about his comments and offered an “I’m sorry you were offended” statement to The Wrap:
I believe deeply that there need to be more diverse filmmakers making movies. I love making movies. It’s what I have chosen to do with my life and I want every young person watching “Project Greenlight” to believe that filmmaking is a viable form of creative expression for them too.
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.
Some people weren’t shocked by Damon’s initial statement, saying that it fits right into the comments some liberals make when they’re actually not that liberal. Others felt that what Damon said shouldn’t reflect badly on him. In any event, Damon’s statement isn’t much of an apology. More like a statement of “Maybe next time you shouldn’t be offended.”