Sunday night, HBO kicked off the fourth season of Project Greenlight, their reality series centered around the filmmaking process.
However, the return of the show has been overshadowed by a moment that many viewers found at best awkward and at worst a glaring example of how white privilege manifests itself in Hollywood.
In the season premiere, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck gather a team of producers (several white men and one white woman) to find a director for the new comedy Not Another Pretty Woman.
Matt Damon speaking over the only black person in the room so he can explain diversity to her is SO WHITE it hurts pic.twitter.com/iaQStYZ0ij
— Glen Coco (@MrPooni) September 14, 2015
The finalists in the competition were then flown to Los Angeles to meet with the team to discuss next steps. At one of these face to face interviews is Effie Brown, an experienced black filmmaker who has produced seventeen feature films, including Dear White People.
Considering the plot of Not Another Pretty Woman is cheekily described as a classic “girl leaves boy at the altar, boy falls in love with a black prostitute” story, Brown suggests it would be wise to include diverse directors in the pool of potentials. She also points out that having the only black person in the movie be a prostitute who is slapped by her white pimp could be viewed as racist, sexist and just overall problematic.
Given the current social climate in this country, her advice is not only thoughtful but timely. However, Damon very adamantly disagrees and “whitesplaines” to 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 a clearly taken aback Brown responds with, “Wow. Ok.”
During the encounter, the thing that many viewers found particularly disturbing was the way Damon talked over Brown and tried to silence her. One can only imagine why the editors of the show decided to include this exchange in the final cut.
Twitter, as usual, was quick to point out the misstep.
Matt Damon supporters better hope this is some secret intentional ploy to get America to talk about diversity and that the actor will come out and say “See, I told you,” pretty soon.
If not, it could get ugly.