Matt Damon has taken some serious heat over the last few days after an interview with The Sunday Times in which he appeared to indicate that he regularly used homophobic slurs. Damon said he’d decided to retire his use of the F-word after his daughter sat him down and explained that it’s offensive:
I made a joke, months ago, and got a treatise from my daughter. She left the table. I said, ‘Come on, that’s a joke! I say it in the movie Stuck on You!.’ She went to her room and wrote a very long, beautiful treatise on how that word is dangerous. I said, ‘I retire the f-slur!’ I understood.”
Damon attempted to justify this by saying that the slur “was commonly used when I was a kid, with a different application”.
But while it’s good that he seems to understand that this is 2021 and homophobic language is offensive and cringeworthy, many have pointed out that it’s telling he was happily using it only a few months ago and that it took an intervention from his kids to get him to stop. For example, director and comedian Travon Free said:
Damon is now in damage control mode and released the following statement to Deadline in an attempt to clear the air:
“During a recent interview, I recalled a discussion I had with my daughter where I attempted to contextualize for her the progress that has been made – though by no means completed – since I was growing up in Boston and, as a child, heard the word ‘f*g’ used on the street before I knew what it even referred to. I explained that that word was used constantly and casually and was even a line of dialogue in a movie of mine as recently as 2003; she in turn expressed incredulity that there could ever have been a time where that word was used unthinkingly. To my admiration and pride, she was extremely articulate about the extent to which that word would have been painful to someone in the LGBTQ+ community regardless of how culturally normalized it was. I not only agreed with her but thrilled at her passion, values and desire for social justice,
“I have never called anyone ‘f****t’ in my personal life and this conversation with my daughter was not a personal awakening. I do not use slurs of any kind. I have learned that eradicating prejudice requires active movement toward justice rather than finding passive comfort in imagining myself ‘one of the good guys.’ And given that open hostility against the LGBTQ+ community is still not uncommon, I understand why my statement led many to assume the worst. To be as clear as I can be, I stand with the LGBTQ+ community.”
Damon probably should be a bit more careful about what he says as he’s had form for this in the past. In a 2015 interview, he seemed to imply that gay actors would perform better if they stayed in the closet. That drew similar condemnation, with Damon later appearing on Ellen to explain he was just trying to say actors are more effective when they’re mysterious and that his comments had been misrepresented.
Right now Matt Damon is starring in Stillwater, a loose adaptation of the Amanda Knox case which is picking up fair positive reviews, being praised by critics for bringing an “intrinsic likeability” and giving an “Oscar-worthy performance”.