Much discussion has been generated this week after a clip from HBO’s Project Greenlight went viral that featured Matt Damon breaking down his thoughts on racial diversity (or lack thereof) to Black filmmaker Effie Brown.
In the :30 second teaser clip, Brown is attempting to salvage any dignity for “Harmony,” the lone Black character of the film subjected to the roundtable discussion. In the film, “Harmony” is a prostitute whose only purpose was to get the pimp slap from her white pimp. As she was warning the group that they should tread lightly in this situation, Brown was cut off by Damon who bluntly told her, “When we’re talking about diversity you do it in the casting of the film not in the casting of the show” to which Brown replied, “Wow…O.K.”
After seeing Brown’s apparent distress, Damon still held tight to his guns in the matter.
“I’m glad Effie flagged the issue of diversity for all of us, because film-making should throw a broader net and it’s high time for that to change, he continued. “But ultimately, if you suddenly change the rules of this competition at the 11th hour, it just seems like you would undermine what the competition was supposed to be about, which is about giving somebody this job based entirely on merit, and leaving all other factors out of it. It’s just strictly a film-making competition. I think the whole point of this thing is that you go for the best director, period.”
“I believe deeply that there need to be more diverse filmmakers making movies. I want every young person watching Project Greenlight to believe that filmmaking is a viable form of creative expression for them too.
“My comments were part of a much broader conversation about diversity in Hollywood and the fundamental nature of Project Greenlight which did not make the show. I am sorry that they offended some people, but, at the very least, I am happy that they started a conversation about diversity in Hollywood.”
Sentiments like this is why the world continues to see light-skinned Harriet Tubman’s and Biblical movies set in Egypt with a predominately white cast.