Matt Damon red carpet
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OPINION

We didn’t ask for Matt Damon’s thoughts on sexual harassment – and they are the worst

This hot mess of an interview displays a total lack of self-awareness, says Rachael Sigee

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By Rachael Sigee on

You know Matt Damon, right? No, not A-list actor Matt Damon. Not red-carpet LOL-ster Matt Damon. Not Jimmy Kimmel-cameoing Matt Damon. I mean father-of-daughters Matt Damon. Actually, scratch that – I mean father-of-FOUR-DAUGHTERS Matt Damon. Because that’s the Matt Damon we’re currently blessed with.

And, boy, does father-of-four-daughters Matt Damon have a lot to say about sexual harassment. Twenty minutes of stuff to say, to be precise.

The AV Club noted that it was actually very convenient that Damon collected all his unwanted and horrible opinions in one place, and it’s true that he was very thorough.

In fact, he is so thorough that he has even concocted a spectrum on which various sexual misdemeanors sit. Thanks, Matt!

To be clear, at one end of the spectrum, according to Matt, is “rape and child molestation or whatever”. That sits firmly at *vaguely gestures left hand*. Then, at the other end, you have “other stuff”, which belongs at *vaguely gestures right hand*. “Other stuff” appears to include Al Franken, “patting someone on the butt” and Louis CK.

Got it? It’s hard to believe we didn’t have this all sorted out before.

And what’s most important to remember is that Damon has female friends (as well as FOUR daughters – don’t forget them) and thinks we need to believe women: “Every woman who’s coming forward with one of these stories needs to be listened to and heard.”

Great point, Matt.

Only, five minutes earlier, you were talking about your male friends and said, “It depends on what the accusation is. It depends what’s going on. If it’s a friend of mine, I’m always talking to them. I know the real story if it’s my friend.” So, I guess the Matt Damon Sexual Assault Spectrum only applies to people he is not friends with and, if we’re not sure, we’ll just have to ask Matt Damon.

Because Damon is Hollywood’s friendliest bro. He’s bezzies with the Affleck brothers, which, up until recently, was great. Of late, though, he has found himself in the awkward position of having close relationships with numerous men accused of various abuses against women and he has handled it with… this interview.

Unlike Sarah Silverman, who spoke candidly about her difficulty reconciling her friendship with Louis CK, concluding: “The only people that matter right now are the victims. They are victims. And they’re victims because of something he did… So, I hope it’s OK if I am at once very angry for the women he wronged and the culture that enabled it, but also sad, because he’s my friend.”

By contrast, although he has never met CK and admits he doesn’t know “all the details” about “the Louis CK thing”, Damon is really into CK’s “apology”, praising him for taking responsibility for his actions. That will be the apology in which CK didn’t actually say, “I’m sorry.” And side note: it is actually quite unnecessary to praise the statement, given how much of it CK spent praising himself anyway. So, despite not having the necessary information, and underplaying the seriousness of CK’s actions, he’s confident in saying, “I don’t imagine he’s going to do those things again.”

The moment where Damon says, "Nobody knew he was raping human beings," of Weinstein – did he forget the word for "women"?

Damon’s lack of self-awareness becomes especially mind-boggling when he talks about how he would fight an accusation now: “I don’t care if it costs $10 million to fight this in court with you for 10 years, you are not taking my name from me. You are not taking my name and my reputation from me. I’ve worked too hard for it. And I earned it. You can’t just blow me up like that.”

As though there aren’t dozens of women who have had their name and reputation taken from them. As though working hard means you can’t also be a perpetrator of sexual violence.

Without recognising that it speaks volumes that the worst thing he can imagine happening in his career is a lawsuit that he can afford.

The interview is such a hot mess that it almost warrants a full annotation. The moment where Damon says, “Nobody knew he was raping human beings,” of Weinstein – did he forget the word for “women”?

When he asks, “At what point does somebody’s behaviour, that you have a professional relationship, does somebody’s behaviour away from the profession bother you enough that you don’t want to work with them?” and the interviewer doesn’t scream back at him, “IT WAS IN THE PROFESSION, MATT. THAT IS THE POINT.”

On Weinstein, he says “that stuff stayed secret because it was criminal and he knew it”. Not secret because of the fundamental misogyny on which Hollywood was built. Not secret because of the readiness of powerful men to protect other powerful men. Not secret because women were controlled, their voices silenced and their careers threatened.

He talks about how common it is to take meetings in hotel rooms without any acknowledgement of how settings like this might be threatening to women or might rob them of their autonomy.

He talks about how great it is that bad apples are being weeded out without acknowledging that it has already been well established that the problem is systemic, that the institution is at fault, not the individual players.

In the long-running gag about Jimmy Kimmel and Matt Damon hating each other, Kimmel’s former girlfriend, Sarah Silverman, once made a video of her singing, “I’m fucking Matt Damon.” It was really funny.  

And the best bit is it still holds up, with a slight modification. The remixed version is: “Ugh. Fucking Matt Damon.” Delivered with your choice of an eye-roll, a facepalm or literally tearing your hair out

@littlewondering

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harvey weinstein
sexual harassment
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