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Matt Damon and Effie Brown on Project Greenlight

Video screenshot

Of course Matt Damon knows a lot about diversity in film. There were tons of black people in the Bourne series. No? Oh. Well, I’m quite sure there were plenty in True Grit? Oh. None in that one either, huh? The Adjustment Bureau?  No. We Bought a Zoo? No. The Monuments Men? No. OK, Don Cheadle and Bernie Mac were in the Ocean’s movies. And I’m quite sure that growing up in Cambridge, Mass., definitely makes him an expert on diversity. Because that would be the only reason Damon would feel the need to talk over a black female producer when she was making valid points about the lack of diversity in Hollywood.

Damon caught the ire of social media when the season premiere of the HBO docuseries Project Greenlight aired Sunday night.

Project Greenlight involves hopeful directors getting their first break in the business by getting attached to a project. The mission at hand was to choose a director for a comedy that has a black prostitute (Harmony) as the main character. Damon, Ben Affleck, the Farrelly brothers and Effie Brown, the woman who produced Dear White People, had choices to make.

Brown wanted to choose Leo Angelos and Kristen Brancaccio, an Asian man and a white woman, because she felt they could bring diversity to the script. Now, mind you, she’s rallying for diversity, and the choices are an Asian man and a white woman.

“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.”

Damon’s response in regard to not picking them was because they did not bring up any of the problematic issues of Harmony’s character. But Damon’s next comments were the ones that have people seething.

“When we’re talking about diversity, you do it in the casting of the film, not in the casting of the show,” he said, referring to why he felt Brown’s choice of diverse directors wasn’t important.

“Hoo. Wow. OK!” Brown answered.

Take a look at the clip below and watch Damon talk over a black woman who probably knows a thing or two about diversity and the lack thereof in Hollywood.

It seems as though Damon, who undoubtedly has made strides in Hollywood, has flawed views on diversity. When you’re trying to make a film diverse, not only does the casting have to be diverse; the people behind the camera should be, too. You’re telling the story, a comedy about a black prostitute, which already sounds tragic enough, and you don’t feel that the director should be diverse? And we’re not even talking about a black director. The duo Brown wanted were an Asian man and a white woman!

Needless to say, social media took the story and ran with it.

Here’s the thing about Damon: He’s white. He’s from Cambridge. He played a genius who worked as a janitor. He’s friends with Ben Affleck. If he had used at least an iota of energy to prevent Affleck’s acting career, he would have done the world a bigger favor than his sorry attempt at trying to explain how diversity works.

Needless to say, Brown’s choice for director was not chosen. Project Greenlight chose Jason Mann, a white man, to direct the Farrelly brothers’ script Not Another Pretty Woman—a comedy about a black prostitute! I don’t even want to think about how this is going to pan out.

Wait, there has to be at least one black Martian in Damon’s new film, right?

For more of black Twitter, check out The Chatterati on The Root and follow The Chatterati on Twitter.

Yesha Callahan is editor of The Grapevine and a staff writer at The Root. Follow her on Twitter.

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