The #MeToo movement has done a lot of good this year — and will likely continue to do so in the new year. Victims throughout Hollywood now feel empowered to come forward with accounts of what has happened to them, while alleged predators such as Kevin Spacey and Harvey Weinstein have lost their positions of power.
As with any movement, however, fringe elements are working to undo the good work that’s been done. Some want to inject thought-policing and political correctness into what is supposed to be a culturally transitional moment for the country and specific industries such as Hollywood.
One victim of the politically correct factions of the #MeToo movement is Matt Damon. The actor’s been a friend to liberal politicians and social movements.
Now he’s in hot water over recent comments he made about Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K., and Al Franken, the Democrat from Minnesota who recently announced he’s resigning from the Senate.
“I think it’s wonderful that women are feeling empowered to tell their stories, and it’s totally necessary,” Damon said on ABC’s “Popcorn with Peter Travers” while promoting his new film, “Downsizing.” “I do believe there’s a spectrum of behavior. There’s a difference between 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.”
Damon said he saw a difference in the behaviors demonstrated by Franken and Weinstein — and believed the two therefore should face different consequences.
“When you see Al Franken taking a picture putting his hands on that woman’s flak jacket and mugging for the camera … that is just like a terrible joke, and it’s not funny. It’s wrong, and he shouldn’t have done that,” Damon said. “But when you talk about Harvey and what he’s accused of, there are no pictures of that. He knew he was up to no good. There’s no witnesses. There’s no pictures. There’s no braggadocio. That stuff happened secretly, because it was criminal and he knew it. So they don’t belong in the same category.”
Damon had worked with Weinstein on such films as “Good Will Hunting,” but he’s insisted he had no idea about the extent of the producer’s alleged crimes.
The actor also commented on comedian Louis C.K., who put out a statement after allegations of sexual misconduct came to light about him. In his case, the filmmaker admitted to his actions.
Said Damon, “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, 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.’ Like, when I’m raising my kids, this constant personal responsibility is as important as anything else they learn before they go off in the world.”
Many went after Damon for his comments — including his ex-girlfriend and “Good Will Hunting” costar, Minnie Driver.
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The social media backlash caught so much fire that there’s now an online petition demanding Damon be removed from the upcoming “Ocean’s 8,” a film in which he has a cameo reprising his role from the “Ocean’s 11” trilogy.
The petition has some 19,000 signatures as of this writing.
“Damon’s inclusion [in the movie] would trivialize the serious nature of the charges against sexual abusers like Weinstein — a show of massive disrespect for the brave women speaking out,” the petition reads.
It also argues that “Ocean’s 8” is supposed to be a film empowering to women (it has a nearly all-female cast) — and that Damon’s presence only detracts from the movie’s message. The petition even accuses Damon of “enabling” Weinstein’s behavior.
Take away all the extreme allegations and wordplay — and this petition comes down to one thing: thought-policing.
The petition arose after the recent interview Damon gave in which he touched on sexual misconduct accusations against various Hollywood creators.
Damon didn’t defend anybody. He pointed out the differences in behavior among Weinstein and Louis C.K. and Franken. The behaviors should all be eradicated — but identified as different.
Whether one agrees with his point or not is largely irrelevant. Such petitions seek to close down free speech. A person — right or wrong, Left or Right, agreeable or disagreeable, or anything in between — must be able to think aloud, work through developing situations, and share opinions. Otherwise how do we have any conversations at all in our society?
What good would it do to have Damon cut from his next movie? It’s essentially the same process that’s been used to keep many conservatives from certain jobs in the entertainment industry because folks didn’t like their opinions. In essence, it’s also the same mentality allegedly used by people like Weinstein to deny work to those who refused his sexual advances.
Dangerous intolerance like this can have major repercussions in our society if given any real power on social media or elsewhere.
PopZette editor Zachary Leeman can be reached at [email protected]