September 16, 2015

Matt Damon is mocked with #Damonsplaining after he makes statements about hiring people to work on movies "based entirely on merit."

On his HBO show "Project Greenlight" (which has a new season after a 10 year hiatus), he acknowledged the importance of "diversity" in choosing actors to put on screen, but rejected it as a factor in hiring all the many other people who work on a project.
Damon’s remark came in conversation with Effie Brown, the African American producer of many films, including last year’s critically lauded “Dear White People,” and a judge on “Project Greenlight.” Thus, it seemed that a white male — a very famous, Oscar-winning white male — was lecturing a lesser-known artist of color on how Hollywood works.

Damon doubled down in an interview later in the show. “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,” he said.

Damon, not known for his social media presence, has remained silent on the exchange so far.
Brown had been concerned about how the director was "going to treat the character of Harmony, her being a prostitute, the only black person who gets beat by her white pimp." There are so many layers of problems here, and one of them, I'd say, is the endless enthusiasm for stories like that. A black prostitute beaten up by a white pimp. Why is that even the project in the first place? Quite aside from whether the director — whoever he is — will "treat the character" with — what? — sensitivity? — I'd like to know why debased crap like that is even the project in the first place.

Maybe I'd have some insight into that if I watched "Project Greenlight," but from this distance, the entire business seems so sick and inhumane that the flimsy remedy of considering hiring a black director is ludicrous. But I guess "Project Greenlight" is a competition reality show, and contestants are vying for the jobs, and in that context, allowing race to be a factor would wreck the reality show.

I assume Damon was paying no attention to the way his statements would apply outside of the realm of a reality show competition — in actual reality. And now Damon finds himself accused of opposition to affirmative action, pummeled with a hashtag and not particularly competitive in the social-media game.

62 comments:

MadisonMan said...

The twitterverse does love a good witch hunt.

#FakeOutrage!!

Michael K said...

"critically lauded “Dear White People,”

By who ?

Damon, like most Hollywood lefties, leaves his foolish socialism at home when business is the topic.

tim in vermont said...

Damon deserves everything he gets for that lie laden anti fracking movie "The Promised Land."

chickelit said...

I'm buying popcorn for tonight's debate.

tim maguire said...

The real reality that peaked through the curtain: no one, absolutely no one, is liberal in their personal lives.

madAsHell said...

opposition to affirmative action

Isn't affirmative action inherently racist?
yeah, yeah....rhetorical question.

Would it not be more accurate to have a black pimp, and a white girl?

Laslo Spatula said...

"... is the endless enthusiasm for stories like that. A black prostitute beaten up by a white pimp. Why is that even the project in the first place? "

Maybe the story centers on the conflicted feelings of being a white pimp in a profession often seen as occupied by minorities.

Perhaps he has fears of inadequacy, being white, and -- in a pivotal scene -- he overcompensates by striking the black prostitute -- hoping to get her to respect him the way the black girls respect their black pimps.

The problem is this only shows his weakness, and the girls in the stable recognize this. They know that each time he raises his hand he is losing power, not gaining it.

Isolated, he has no mentor in the white pimp world to provide him guidance, and the police only laugh at him -- he is not considered even worthy of arrest.

Finally, one black prostitute decides to take him under her wing and show him how pimping is done, coaching from the shadows.

As he slowly learns to Stand Strong as a Pimp he feels empty: the feelings of inadequacy were what was left of his Soul.

In the finale he takes his lessons to heart and strikes his prostitute mentor: she know nows her job is done.

Also: don't name a prostitute 'Harmony". It makes it sound like you are trying too hard.


I am Laslo.


MadisonMan said...

I agree with althouse, though, that the white-pimp-beating-black-prositute thing has been done to, well, death.

Would it be more accurate to have the pimp be black? That's what Damon should have asked.

What is the racial background of most pimps, anyway? (I have no idea)

Skipper said...

What's a MattDamon?

Curious George said...

"MadisonMan said...
I agree with althouse, though, that the white-pimp-beating-black-prositute thing has been done to, well, death."

Really? I can't think off the top of my head of even one example.

Keep in mind that Damon has full editing control and chose to show all this. It's not some lib being shown for what they are like the Disney hacking. He thought this made him look cool and clever.

Laslo Spatula said...

This makes me want to watch an episode of "Mannix."

I am Laslo.

Wince said...

Movie Title: "White Men Can't Pimp".

CWJ said...

"A black prostitute beaten up by a white pimp."

Progressive porn.

Wince said...

Laslo Spatula said...
This makes me want to watch an episode of "Mannix."

Joe Mannix, always asking his black secretary Peggy Fair for coffee.

In the beginning, the actress recalled, her character did little beyond answer the phone or fetch coffee for her private-investigator boss, played by Mike Connors. Gradually, the role was broadened to the point that Fisher's character was always there to help the detective out of a scrape or untangle confusing evidence.

Fisher won praise for elevating a bit part to nearly co-star status within her first season. She earned an Emmy for best supporting actress in a drama in 1970 and was nominated four additional times.

She was proud of her work on the show, one of the longest-running and most violent detective series of its time, in part because her role created a positive image of blacks.

"Well, certain people who had no knowledge of blacks have maybe--maybe--learned something because of 'Mannix's' Peggy Fair," she told an interviewer in 1972. "Blacks were pretty much alien objects on TV as recently as 10 years ago, you know, and now we're people. I think maybe before it's all over, it's going to be all right, and I'm proud I'm a part of that."

Bay Area Guy said...

Need a new tag - "left-wing cannibalism"

glenn said...

A white pimp?

tim in vermont said...

The real reality that peaked through the curtain: no one, absolutely no one, is liberal in their personal lives.

I watched that Netflix documentary Milius, about just about the only big name director in Hollywood who was conservative, (though nobody will admit it) and there was a story from another director, who lent him money so that Milius, who was blackballed for making the "jingoistic" anti Soviet movie Red Dawn, could send his kid to college. The director who lent him the money then remarked that Milius was the only person who ever paid him back. So I am thinking that all of those other people who didn't pay him back, were, in fact, liberals in their personal life.

holdfast said...

I consider myself an expert, having watched hundreds of episodes of Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU and Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and even Law & Order: UK (Law & Order, Los Angeles was unwatchable). Anyway, as an expert let me say that it's far more common (on TV) to have a black pimp running white girls than it is to have a white pimp running any girls, let alon black ones. The only white pimps you see on TV tend to be from the Balkans or difficult-to-pronounce places in the former USSR.

tim in vermont said...

BTW, when people say that Hollywood is about money, not ideology, Red Dawn and Apocalypse Now, Conan the Barbarian, and Dirty Harry all made money.

Milius was denounced in The Guardian, among other places, and didn't work for a long time. He found odd work writing little bits for movies, like the story of the sinking of the Indianapolis in Jaws, the most memorable scene in the movie if you don't go in for giant rubber sharks.

oldirishpig said...

Wait, what... I thought pimps were black guys with fake fur coats and wide-brimmed hats and miles of non-gold chains around their neck, who beat innocent white girls who don't earn enough and fall in love with their clients. When did this change?

Gabriel said...

Yes, I'm sure showing a black pimp beating prostitutes would have gone over equally well.

Another game that can't be won. You will always be found racist.

mikee said...

"allowing race to be a factor would wreck the reality show"

No, no it would not. Having affirmative action contestants would increase a likely viewing demographic, maybe more than one.

Members of the oppressed group might view the show if they could identify with the participants by race.

And people who like to criticize affirmative action might watch the show to complain about it.

So the show would have that going for it, which would be nice, as I have never seen nor heard of this show before reading about it here.


I think MattDamon, in his reality show, is using plot devices of movies remembered from his youth. Yeah, pimps & hoes is a tired, tired subject. And white pimps have been around forever in Hollywood.

The extremely white Ron Howard directed Night Shift, a 1982 movie about white pimps, with extremely white Henry Winkler & Michael Keaton as inadvertent pimps and extremely white Shelley Long in the role of leading white prostitute. I think there were a few black hoes in the pimps' stable, but I haven't seen the movie in a while. And I would not watch it again unless Laslo offered to Mystery Science 3000 it with me.

And there was a white pimp in extremely white Tome Cruise's 1983 movie, Risky Business. There were definitely a few hoes of color working for that white pimp, including the first escort to show up to the young Tom's front door.

I, for one, would watch the re-creation of the Risky Business stairway sex scene on the reality show, take after take, for an entire episode.

Fabi said...

Butters was a white pimp.

"Yes, I know what you are saying."

ndspinelli said...

Look for a fawning mea culpa soon.

JAORE said...

I watched the video of the exchange on another site. Matt D. started his reply with a statement that they had already talked about the subject. The response was something like, "Not really". Perhaps, just perhaps the ethnicity of the director had been beaten to death prior to the video. Perhaps, just perhaps THAT is why she was cut off the way she was.

But, yeah, popcorn, more popcorn.

William said...

I haven't seen Damon's socially conscious movies, but I saw the Bourne movies. They were pretty good and alerted us to the many threats that a rogue CIA program can pose to a fragile democracy.

Rick said...

I think it would be great for Matt Damon to include race preferences in the show.

ndspinelli said...

Don Corleone said of Tatagglia, "He's a pimp."

The Cracker Emcee Refulgent said...

Christopher Walken in Taxi Driver. My favorite white pimp. After James Carville, of course.

Rick said...

Christopher Walken in Taxi Driver

Harvey Keitel.

Sebastian said...

"A black prostitute beaten up by a white pimp. Why is that even the project in the first place?"

What, you think they'd make a movie with the races reversed?

Next, you're going to tell us they should make movies dramatizing the plight of white women assaulted by black men.

It is true Hollywood is very "inhumane" and of course judging by merit will only make it worse.

Unknown said...

In the 1998 remake of "Twelve Angry Men" (which has a great cast, rivaling that of the original), they cast the excellent Mykelti Williamson in the role of the racist, and made him a member of the Nation of Islam. I only came upon the remake recently, and what struck me was how shocked I was that they had made that choice. That they hadn't cast a white guy in the role of the racist. This film was made in 1998. We are clearly not progressing, if choices like that could be made as recently as the turn of the century, but would be shocking today. I'm sure coincidentally, this film is not available on DVD (though you can stream it through Amazon Prime). D.GOOCH

holdfast said...

I think we can all agree that It's Hard Out Here For a Pimp

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYl3FCQqZn8

n.n said...

Damon picked the wrong modulus. #CongruenceMatters

holdfast said...

Now this guy is a serious P I M P!

The dean of Stanford Business School has resigned amid a scandalous court battle in which he is accused of having an affair with a fellow professor's wife.
Garth Saloner, who has directed the country’s leading business program for six years, announced on Monday that he will step down at the end of the academic year as the scandalous lawsuit has become ‘a distraction’.

The widowed economist and academic is accused of sleeping with Deborah Gruenfeld, 54, a Stanford professor and a board member of Sheryl Sandberg's LeanIn.org, before she had divorced fellow professor James Phills, 55, in December 2012.
According to Phills’ suit filed last year, he has reason to believe the pair exchanged 'extremely intimate' photographs and messages while he was still married


http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3236249/Stanford-Business-School-dean-resigns-amid-affair-scandal-accused-sleeping-fellow-professor-s-wife-staff-sending-racy-pictures-firing-husband.html

The Cracker Emcee Refulgent said...


"Christopher Walken in Taxi Driver

Harvey Keitel."

Oh, crap. My bad. They all look alike to me.

Laslo Spatula said...

I have covered some of the difficulties for Pimps before.

I am Laslo.

kcom said...

I think we can all agree that It's Hard Out Here For a Pimp

It's also hard make a live link, apparently. :)

Brando said...

Poor Matt Damon--does he not know that race matters, and it trumps everything now? How can we consider things like talent and qualifications when those factors were created by white supremacy?

Back to the re-education camps for you, Will Hunting!

Brando said...

Speaking of Harvey Keitel (who was a hell of a pimp in Taxi Driver) the most unbelievable part of Reservoir Dogs was that they had Keitel's character be from Milwaukee.

Maybe it's the same part of Milwaukee that the Fonz is from, where they all have New York accents!

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Surely there's a "Fen's Law" tag.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

The closest analog in the modern day to a slavemaster is a pimp (exploits the work/labor/pain of others for their own profit, hold others in bondage, uses the bodies of others for their own benefit--including sexually, enforces will on others with physical violence and threats of death, etc). The African American community promotes awareness of the horrors of historical slavery and many in that community believe that American slavery was both uniquely/exceptionally bad (in world historical terms).
For some time now "pimp" and being a pimp has been viewed positively in African American popular culture.
Thoughts?

HoodlumDoodlum said...

tim Maguire said...The real reality that peaked through the curtain: no one, absolutely no one, is liberal in their personal lives.

Robert Conquests's 1st Law of Politics:
Everyone is conservative about what he knows best.

CatherineM said...

Brando - that is funny about the accents. I have noticed that too. Including the movie Grease, set in California, but somehow all the greasers sound like they are from NY.

Then, there is Dennis Franz on NYPD Blue playing a New Yorker with a Chicaaahga accent.

I agree with AA. When I heard about this story the other day, I thought, the movie sounds like hackneyed crap.

Titus said...

Matt Damon, a Cambridge boy, is hot.

He has an amazing body.

tits.

traditionalguy said...

Pimps are very strong minded men with very high IQs needed to run a stable of women as a profit making business. Therefore it is racist to say a white man makes a good pimp but a black man could not run the business well enough.

That makes it the opposite of affirmative action. So I suspect it is meant to be seen as a veiled Simon LeGree character from a re-make of Uncle Tom's Cabin.

traditionalguy said...

Great Pimping was done by Gregg Henry as Val Resnick in Payback. It is an all time Mel Gibson Scots-Irish type of flick that gets better with the re-watching.

Anonymous said...

I still burn with resentment over the fact that lesbian leftist Linda Hunt hasn't given back her Oscar for playing a **Chinese** **man** (Billy Kwan) in "The Year of Living Dangerously".

That's problematic, all the way down.

richard mcenroe said...

Yes, I too remember the crowds of white pimps herding the pros in Time Square in the 70's. They were a shame to our race.

Fernandistein said...

Thus, it seemed that a white male ...

Boo. Hiss. Etc.

"which is about giving somebody this job based entirely on merit"

According to the U of California, saying "merit" is a microaggression (Volokh).

A black prostitute beaten up by a white pimp. Why is that even the project in the first place?

Because it's the opposite of what really happens. And because white people are bad.

Known Unknown said...

Snake. Eating tail.

MadisonMan said...

Maybe it's the same part of Milwaukee that the Fonz is from, where they all have New York accents!

Cudahy.

Wince said...

I'm not showing you my outline, you pimp.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YiXTA4_T_tE#t=1m20s

Michael K said...

"Milius, who was blackballed for making the "jingoistic" anti Soviet movie Red Dawn,"

It's interesting that the DVD version of Red Dawn has a different ending. The theatrical version had a very weak ending "The war ended as wars always do." The DVD version has what must have been the original ending.

Brando said...

"Milius, who was blackballed for making the "jingoistic" anti Soviet movie Red Dawn."

I loved the politics of it, but man did I hate that movie. And the re-make was unwatchable, except for the meta lesson which was that Hollywood is in such fear of the Chinese markets that they had to make the ludicrous story that the Norks could have invaded the Pacific Northwest.

Far greater anti-communist movies include "Burnt by the Sun", "Killing Fields" and the original "Manchurian Candidate".

Bay Area Guy said...

Hollywood should enact a rule - "Henceforth, no theatical productions depicting "pimps" shall hire African-American or other people of color to play said role." Although, that might violate anti-discrimination laws. Oh well.

Was bored the other night, saw the old Red Dawn on Netflix - still enjoyed it. Wolverines!

Best Anti-Commie movie ever - "The Lives of Others." I have no idea how it even got made. It genuinely and accurately shows what East Germany was like under Commie rule. Great, serious flick.

Static Ping said...

I'm just curious about whatever happened with the prior 3 seasons of Project Greenlight. Hmm.

Season 1: Stolen Summer: Confused 8-year-old Catholic boy tries to convert his ill Jewish friend in weird ways. BUDGET: $1.5 million. US GROSS: $134 thousand. IMDB rating: 6.5. Rotten Tomatoes: 36% (though the audience liked it much better at 69%). The winning director Pete Jones went on to make one more movie (Outing Riley) of no consequence and wrote the comedy Hall Pass which had a marginally worse IMDB rating (5.9) but actually made some money.

Season 2: The Battle of Shaker Heights: Something about a young war reenactment enthusiast dating his friend's older sister. Maybe. BUDGET: $1 million. US GROSS: $279 thousand. IMDB Rating: 6.1. Rotten Tomatoes: 41%. There were writer and director contests for this season. The writer Erica Beeney has done nothing since then. There were two directors. Efram Potelle has only directed some short films since then, but has done some work as a visual effects artist for mostly B movies. Kyle Rankin has actually directed some real films since then, if you consider Infestation and Night of the Living Deb to be real films.

Season 3: Feast: Horror film. IMDB plot synopsis: Patrons locked inside of a bar are forced to fight monsters. Original! BUDGET: $3.2 million. US GROSS: $658 thousand, though it did well in DVD sales and resulted in two sequels. IMDB Rating: 6.4. Rotten Tomatoes: 56%. The writer winners Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton have gone onto be the writers of the Saw movies (starting with IV) and the Feast films. The director John Gulager has gone on to direct some low budget horror films like the Feast saga.

So a reality show about making mediocre movies.

jr565 said...

"You know it's hard out here for a pimp
When he tryin' to get this money for the rent
For the Cadillacs and gas money spent
Because a whole lot of bitches talkin' shit"

jr565 said...

Bay Area Guy:
Hollywood should enact a rule - "Henceforth, no theatical productions depicting "pimps" shall hire African-American or other people of color to play said role." Although, that might violate anti-discrimination laws. Oh well.

actually the pimp is a white guy. The issue then is that its a black woman being beaten by a white pimp. and this woman thinks that it requires a black director to adequately portray this scene as otherwise the white director will turn it into a stereotype. As if that scene is so nuanced a white director could not possibly address the subtle intricacies of it.
So, do blacks want the pimp to be played by a black guy (it would certainly be more accurate) or does that reinforce the stereotype of the black pimp. Maybe the pimp AND hoe should be white, so as to not ruffle any feathers.

Achilles said...

Matt Damon is an idiot. So are most actors. That is all of the time I have for this topic.

Brando said...

"Best Anti-Commie movie ever - "The Lives of Others." I have no idea how it even got made. It genuinely and accurately shows what East Germany was like under Commie rule. Great, serious flick."

That one was terrific--I was moved by the end.

I remember in college hearing about a movie that took place during the Communist coup in Czechoslovakia in '48, but can't figure out what it was called.

Joe said...

Seems that many critics assume "hollywood" is nothing but directors, writers and actors. There are genuine market considerations for all three, but movies are made by the crew, where merit does play a huge part. (So does knowing someone who knows someone, but even then, if you aren't competent, you won't last.)