Matt Damon has [The Martian](tag:959366) release on the not-too-distant horizon, and it seems like right now he can't shake the media and its seemingly targeted spin on things that he's been saying. Now, I'm not here to say that Matt Damon has been saying all the right things - because he hasn't. Rather, I'm here to say that a few of his comments have been misconstrued and that I don't think he's a bad guy.
Most recently, he was reported to have said that gay and lesbian actors should stay in the closet. This is something the LGBT community wasn't really too happy with... and deservedly so. However, Damon went on Ellen Degeneres' show to clarify those comments, which he believes were spun to create a news story.
You can judge for yourself. Here's what he said to The Guardian prior to his appearance on Ellen:
“I think you’re a better actor the less people know about you, period. And sexuality is a huge part of that. Whether you’re straight or gay, people shouldn’t know anything about your sexuality because that’s one of the mysteries that you should be able to play.”
In a response to these words getting spread everywhere (thanks, social media), Damon then told Ellen the following, on her show:
"I was just trying to say actors are more effective when they’re a mystery, right? And somebody picked it up and said I said gay actors should get back in the closet. Which is like, I mean it’s stupid, but it is painful when things get said that you don’t believe. You know what I mean? And then it gets represented that that’s what you believe.”
He also spoke on how his good friend and Good Will Hunting co-star Ben Affleck was rumored to be gay with Damon after the film:
“There’s no real penalty for just taking the ball and running with it. You know what I mean? You’re just trying to click on your thing.”
Not entirely sure what he's getting at there, but I guess the point is that too much transparency as an actor can be a negative thing. You're supposed to dive into your role and leave behind your personal identity. I get that.
Clearly, Ellen Degeneres is an influential member of the LGBT community, and this was probably, in some ways, a PR move on Damon's part. But is what he said to clarify these comments something that you buy? Are we reading too much into his comments?
It's difficult to be a movie star with an opinion sometimes, mostly because that opinion can lead to a negative backlash. I think that because his movie is coming out this weekend, he's an interesting target for the media to try to tear down. Does he deserve to be held accountable for his comments? Yes, definitely. But should we ridicule him and write him off as a bigoted homophobic racist? I don't think so.
[The Martian](tag:959366) hits theaters this weekend October 2nd.