Tuesday, September 29, 2015

An Open Letter

Dear Matt Damon,


I have liked you as an actor ever since School Ties. And I'm sure you're a good guy. But recently, it seems as though every time you open your mouth your Straight White Male Privilege comes flooding out and it is EMBARRASSING.
I can't really speak to the whole Project Greenlight diversity issue, but this most recent slip-up, I most definitely can. "Actors are more effective when they're a mystery," huh? So by that yardstick, you must be a pretty damn ineffective actor, since everyone knows a whole lot about you - we know your best friend is Ben Affleck because you told us when doing the rounds for the film you wrote  together (Good Will Hunting, one of my favorite films), we even know who your wife is because you bring her to premieres with you and thank her in award acceptance speeches. And because of that, we know (GASP) what your sexuality is!
Yet somehow, we still believed you (and your co-star Michael Douglas, aka Mr. Catherine Zeta-Jones) as a gay man in Steven Soderbergh's Behind the Candelabra. And we buy it when you fall in love and have sex with women other than your wife in other films. Because acting is ALL ABOUT making people forget that you are who you are in real life and making them believe you are whatever character you are playing. For example: We all knew Christopher Lee was not a vampire, but we were still scared shitless of him as Dracula anyway! "Mystery" doesn't ever enter the picture. The only time it might lend a helping hand is when the actor is BAD, when they're not doing their job to make the character believable. That's when we rely on our good old-fashioned intuition to help fill in holes.
Because let's face it: 99% of the time when you see someone, you assume they are straight. Even if it's only subconsciously. Because, let's face it, most people in the world are straight. And since that's the case, people are straight until proven gay. That just is how it is, and that's okay. It does, however, put the onus on gay people of all stripes to "come out" (a phrase I detest) and let people know. That's slightly unfair (more so in parts of the world where being gay is a crime or otherwise punishable offense in the eyes of other people) but it is what it is.

So at best, Matt, by saying this you are showing that you are completely ignorant of how your own craft works, and at worst you are saying something extremely damaging to gay people. It's not exactly homophobic per se, but it promotes homophobia by suggesting that gay people should not say anything about their homosexuality at the same time as you and countless others flaunt your heterosexuality around the world without giving it a second thought.
And no matter which one it is, your statements make me think less of you. And they make me less likely to see your new film, which looks like it might be really good and which I probably would have seen otherwise (and which, by your own logic, no one will see - or believe you in if they do - because there's no mystery to the fact that you are not an astronaut with world-class smarts). Because now when I look at you, all I can see is a smug straight white man who doesn't have the ability to see past the end of his nose. And why would I want to support the career of someone like that?


Dancin' Dan


  1. Excellent, well-written article. Love the pics you included, too. Linked to this post, here:


    1. Thank you so much! I plan on adding more pics as I think of good ones.

  2. Great post Dan. It's a shame when actors 'open mouth/insert foot'. In reading the interview, I don't think Matt meant bad by his words...but I do feel that they accentuate ignorance, which at the end of the day is almost just as harmful. Hopefully he'll take a breath before offering advice on a subject he clearly knows little about.

    Like...it didn't even make sense.

    1. And that's the thing that galls me so much. How can someone so smart say something that makes such little sense? One can only conclude ignorance, which may be bliss, but it also makes you look bad. And then Ellen just being her sweet self in the interview as opposed to her activist self... nearly as disappointing, if understandable. That was such a teachable moment - if not for Damon, then for tons of people around the world - and she turned it into "stupid press and bloggers, always twisting what we celebrities say... can't catch a break!" Yet again speaking from a seemingly unknowing place of privilege.

      He's becoming more and more the poster boy for Hollywood's ignorance and almost willful misreading of things ("Rupert Everett's career tanked... must have been because he was openly gay, not because of his reputation of being difficult to work with or that he chose some terrible projects!"), and I expected better of him.

  3. I really like Matt Damon as an actor, but his mansplaining lately has been awful. We all slip up, but man....THINK before you speak. That made zero sense.