It seems Matt Damon’s biggest problem is Matt Damon.
The “Stillwater” star found himself in hot water Monday after he was quoted in an interview with The Sunday Times as saying that he recently stopped using the “f-slur for a homosexual” after his daughter wrote him “a very long, beautiful treatise on how that word is dangerous.”
A veritable Twitter storm followed, as perplexed and upset people questioned why he felt the need to volunteer this information, much less why the Harvard-educated star still used the word or needed his daughter to explain its harm.
In a statement to Variety Monday afternoon, Damon, 50, backpedaled, saying he does not use “slurs of any kind” and never used the homophobic slur in his “personal life.” Damon added that growing up in Boston exposed him to the use of the word “constantly and casually.”
“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,” Damon said in the statement. “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,” Damon continued. “I not only agreed with her but thrilled at her passion, values and desire for social justice.”
Damon added that he understood “why my statement led many to assume the worst,” and acknowledged the need for “active movement toward justice” moving forward.
“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,” Damon said. “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.”
If you’re confused, you’re not alone. Following Damon’s statement to Variety, Twitter was again alight with bewilderment. Did Damon ever use the slur, or not? Has he not tuned in to political discourse since 2003? Why won’t he just stop talking?
Still confused as to why Matt Damon even opened his mouth to begin with.— Alex Goldschmidt (@alexandergold) August 3, 2021
Did he think we’d be proud that he learned a homophobic slur was homophobic…this year? What did he think was going to happen?
Just outstanding that Matt Damon told his "I learned not to use a homophobic slur at 50" like it was a heartwarming anecdote of lifelong learning. Like your nan enrolling in a watercolour class at the local college, but for not saying the n-word.— James Felton (@JimMFelton) August 2, 2021
Anthony Allen Ramos, head of talent for GLAAD, an organization that advocates for LGBTQ acceptance, released a statement regarding the Damon saga.
“The conversations that have arisen after Matt Damon’s original interview and subsequent remarks today are an important reminder that this word, or any word that aims to disparage and disrespect LGBTQ people, has no place in mainstream media, social media, classrooms, workplaces, and beyond,” Ramos said. “There needs to be accountability at a time when anti-LGBTQ slurs remain rampant today and can fuel discrimination and stereotypes, especially when used by those outside of the community to defame or describe LGBTQ people.”
Dana Gerber can be reached at email@example.com