The first story accusing Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault broke in October, which means this recent sexual harassment reckoning has only lasted two months. It's almost unbelievable, as it feels like it's been much longer than that. But the truth is the women who were brave enough to go public with allegations against Weinstein inspired countless others to come forward with their own stories of sexual assault at the hands of powerful men, and the ensuing flood of sexual harassment stories has rightfully remained in the news ever since.
Likely because this wave of accusations started in Hollywood, a lot of the subsequent accusations have been focused on men in Hollywood, and that has led to many people commenting on the phenomenon and what it means to them. Matt Damon is the latest famous person to put his two cents into the conversation, and unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like he really understands the social and moral implications of what he said (but what else is new?).
Damon is currently on a press tour in support of his upcoming film, Downsizing. He talked with Peter Travers of ABC News this week, and the two spoke about Damon’s connection to Weinstein—who funded Good Will Hunting, the movie that helped launch his and Ben Affleck's careers—and what Damon thinks about the harassment accusations taking over Hollywood.
Damon started off fine. "I do believe that there’s a spectrum of behavior," he said. "There’s a difference between, you know, patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation, right? Both of those behaviors need to be confronted and eradicated without question, but they shouldn’t be conflated, right?"
He’s not wrong, and it would be hard to argue with him. There is indeed a difference, but the point is that anything that falls on the spectrum is wrong.
But issues arose when Damon, star of the very problematic The Great Wall, started to make allowances for certain people. He told ABC that he agrees with how Kevin Spacey and Weinstein have been treated in the wake of the allegations made against them but questioned how others, like Louis C.K. or Al Franken, have been treated.
"The Louis C.K. thing, I don’t know all the details. I don’t do deep dives on this, but I did see his statement, which kind of, which [was] arresting to me," Damon said. "When he came out and said, 'I did this. I did these things. These women are all telling the truth.' And I just remember thinking, 'Well, that’s the sign of somebody who — well, we can work with that.'"
The problem with Damon’s statement is that apologizing for an act that traumatized others and kept them from advancing in their careers is not enough. In fact, C.K.’s statement never once made mention of the word "apologize" and instead mentioned how "admired" he was by women in comedy. The claims made against C.K. had been a kind of open secret for years, and he denied them vehemently until he no longer could. Furthermore, it would probably be best for Damon to know all the details before commenting publicly on it.
"It depends on what the accusation is. It depends on what’s happening," Damon said. "If it’s a friend of mine, I’m always talking to them. I know the real story if it’s my friend…If it’s a colleague…I don’t know…I guess it depends on the situation and the allegation and how believable I think it is.”
Besides Weinstein, Damon is close friends with Affleck, who has been the target of multiple sexual harassment accusations. Casey Affleck, Ben’s brother, has also been sued for sexual harassment. And finally, Damon reportedly had a hand in burying a story that would have accused Weinstein of sexual assault back in 2004. Does Damon only believe accusations when they are lobbed at men he doesn’t know personally? Is he the only person who knows when a case of sexual harassment is actually serious? That's a heavily hypocritical stance, and that’s what many are taking away from this interview.
Check out the clip above to see Damon make his controversial statements.