Matt Damon's Disappointing Thoughts On Diversity In Hollywood
In the season premiere of HBO's Project Greenlight, which has just returned for a fourth season after a decade-long hiatus, Matt Damon comes out of the gate with some disappointing thoughts on diversity in Hollywood.
During a discussion with the producers of Not Another Pretty Woman, the movie that will be brought from paper to film throughout the season, producer Effie Brown makes her case for hiring a directorial team made up of one woman and one man. From Mic.com:
[Brown was] 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."
Vox further explains that Brown was worried "about the one black character in the script the filmmaker will be working with, who is a prostitute who is beaten by her pimp. There's a way to make that work without hitting stereotypes, but Brown is worried it will take a deft touch."
While Brown is making her case, Damon takes no time in interrupting her, saying that diversity is not a problem to be solved in that room, that it is not the conversation they are having. "When we talk about diversity, you do it in the casting of the film," Damon declared, "Not in the casting of the show." What he's saying is that diversity doesn't happen behind the scenes, it happens in casting—or as Jezebel put it, "they don’t have to hire any diverse filmmakers on Project Greenlight as long as they throw a few women and black people onscreen."
Following Damon's "whitesplaining sermon," Brown is visibly taken aback, and lets out a wide-eyed: "Wow, okay."
Damon later explains further that he believes choosing a director should be based on merit, not diversity—"It seems like you would undermine what the competition is supposed to be about, which is about giving somebody this job based entirely on merit."
Spoiler: a white male is chosen as the director, and the cast of this season of Project Greenlight looks almost as diverse as that Vanity Fair photo of the "titans of late night TV."