Matt Damon “Whitesplains” Diversity to Black Filmmaker

  Matt Damon might insist his comments were taken out of context, but unless something was lost in the edit of the first episode of Season 4 of “Project Greenlight,” then he needs to take a little more responsibility. I watched the episode in its entirety in hopes of shedding light on what initially appeared to be shocking, and no such light was shed in his favor.

Here’s the nutshell version of this story. Damon is casting a director for a film, and the movie will star a black prostitute. Effie Brown brought to his attention that diversity should be considered in casting the director, given that there’s only one black person in the film, and they should be careful about how that story is told. Damon insisted that casting should be based on MERIT, not color. He also added that diversity is important in front of the camera, NOT behind it, and even if a diverse director is cast, that won’t necessarily result in a creatively superior story. While it’s true that Effie Brown brought this up too late in the game, his dismissal should have solely focused on the tardiness of the critique, rather than a merit based approach. I’d be curious about the casting process, and how many black people were in the mix before the final number selections came in, none of which were black. Did the casting directors also picked based on merit?

Here’s the very obvious response to Damon, who clearly doesn’t get it. White people surround themselves with white people, thus perpetuating white-dominated success. You might think you’re picking solely based on merit, but unless you keep diversity at the forefront of your mind when you’re picking prospects, you’ll likely go with what what you know and what’s familiar without even realizing it. Furthermore, it’s ignorant to dismiss the importance of color behind the camera, and “whitesplaining” that makes you look like a gigantic doofus. Had he just stuck with “it’s too late in the game for this kind of feedback,” he’d have one the debate.

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