Desmond Tutu said, "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor."
An even stronger way to choose the side of the oppressor would be making concerted efforts to cover up the dark truth–a process Matt Damon seems to know all too well.
Newly unearthed information alleges that Damon helped keep early reports of Harvey Weinstein's sexual misconduct under wraps back in 2004. This scandal is reminiscent of sexual harassment allegations against Casey Affleck, which came to light earlier this year. Despite the accusations, Affleck managed to stay afloat and earn himself an Oscar–partly in thanks to Damon and Ben Affleck's support.
But does Damon choose to go even further than staying silent, and actually work to bury the stories of sexual predators?
20 years ago, Weinstein produced Good Will Hunting, the film that launched Damon and Ben Affleck's careers. (The movie also sort of launched Casey Affleck's career, too.) Weinstein definitely played a role in getting Damon and Affleck their big break–which could have to do with why Damon helped bury the Weinstein story 13 years ago.
The article, which journalist Sharon Waxman was working on for the New York Times in 2004, never saw the light of day in its original form for several reasons, she revealed on The Wrap earlier this week. One such reason was a call Waxman received from Matt Damon at the time. On the call, Damon vouched for Fabrizio Lombardo, the head of Miramax Italy, whose job was allegedly to "take care of Weinstein’s women needs."
Because of Damon's call, as well as a similar call from Russell Crowe (which were both part of Weinstein's "intense pressure" to kill the story), and off-the-record discussions at the New York Times, Waxman says her story was gutted. Why did Damon and Crowe choose to listen to Weinstein, call Waxman, and encourage her that Lombardo wasn't doing anything off-color? Had they not, would her story have run? Would Weinstein have been outed 13 years sooner?
This history of Damon enabling this behavior is not surprising, considering his attitude toward his childhood friend Casey Affleck.
Damon has always remained faithful to and supportive of Casey Affleck, despite the sexual harassment claims against Affleck that dominated the news cycle about a year ago. Two women who worked with Affleck on the 2010 film I'm Still Here sued him for sexual misconduct, and the story blew up in the months surrounding the January 2017 Oscars and Golden Globes.
As detailed by The Guardian, several factors contributed to Casey Affleck rising above the accusations and winning over the Hollywood Foreign Press Association to claim his Golden Globe. In January, several weeks before the Academy Awards, a member of the HFPA told The Guardian, "[Ben Affleck and Matt Damon] joked that Casey finally needs a Golden Globe. Maybe that protects Casey from real scrutiny."
And in November 2016, The Cut pointed out that both Ben Affleck and Matt Damon have "championed and protected Casey throughout his career, sending a message to the media that they are a united front," as seen in articles published by The New York Times Magazine, Lainey Gossip, The New York Times, and Variety over the past few years. Not to mention, Damon produced Manchester by the Sea, the film which earned Casey his Oscar.
Tuesday morning, Ben Affleck issued a statement on social media denouncing Harvey Weinstein (though he did not mention him by name). Many responded to Affleck, urging him to address his brother with a similar sentiment.
Also on Tuesday, Damon spoke with Deadline to refute Waxman's claims that his phone call to her was meant to protect Weinstein. He told the outlet that Weinstein had told him Waxman was writing a negative story about Fabrizio, and Weinstein asked Damon to "call and tell [Waxman] what your experience with Fabrizio was." Damon told Deadline, "For the record, I would never, ever, ever try to kill a story like that. I just wouldn’t do that. It’s not something I would do, for anybody." He also claimed not to know about Weinstein's sexual misconduct:
We know this stuff goes on in the world. I did five or six movies with Harvey. I never saw this. I think a lot of actors have come out and said, everybody’s saying we all knew. That’s not true. This type of predation happens behind closed doors, and out of public view. If there was ever an event that I was at and Harvey was doing this kind of thing and I didn’t see it, then I am so deeply sorry, because I would have stopped it. And I will peel my eyes back now, father than I ever have, to look for this type of behavior. Because we know that it happens. I feel horrible for these women and it’s wonderful they have this incredible courage and are standing up now.
Sharon Wexler did not immediately respond to Someecards' request for comment regarding the 2004 phone call with Matt Damon, nor did Matt Damon's publicist.
And while Matt Damon's actions have enabled men like Weinstein and Casey Affleck to thrive, there is hope that we can take these dudes down. Thanks to the people who have bravely come forward about Weinstein's misconduct (including Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie) and those who have denounced he and Affleck's behavior, the oppressors' voices will eventually be silenced.