Talk about irony. Season 4 of HBO’s Project Greenlight premiered on Sunday night to much controversy after Matt Damon interrupted the only African-American female filmmaker in the room to squeeze in a bit of “diversity training.”
Project Greenlight is Damon and Ben Affleck’s passion project, a show that rewards a filmmaker with an opportunity to make a $3 million feature film. They enlist the help of A-list producers, directors, and writers to help narrow down the finalists, although this panel is primarily comprised of white men and one white woman. Producer Effie Brown was the outlier in the group and thus shouldered any attempt at diversity all on her own. However, as she advocated the most diverse directing team, Damon interrupted her by saying,
“When we’re talking about diversity, you do it in the casting of the film, not in the casting of the show.”
In other words, Damon didn’t feel the need to pick diverse filmmakers because there was already a “diverse” cast of a few women and black people onscreen. His understanding of diversity in Hollywood amounts to casting people of color to be in front of the camera, not behind it. And the sad truth is that this idea is widely prevalent in entertainment today and Hollywood still has a long way to go. Brown’s shocked “wow” and astonishment at #Damonsplaining is nothing compared to the rest of the Internet’s outrage.