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Ben Affleck and Matt Damon get woke, pledge to use inclusion riders

Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, Harvey Weinstein collaborators who often found themselves on the wrong side of #MeToo shake-up of American culture, are trying to right their past wrongs by announcing that they will add inclusion riders to contracts for their film company projects.
The A-listers are taking a cue from Frances McDormand, who ended her Academy Award acceptance speech March 4 with a call for “inclusion riders.” The term left many watching the ceremony rushing to Google. The term refers to an optional addition to a contract that requires that the cast and crew on a film or TV project meet a certain level of diversity.
Affleck and Damon’s decision to support the idea was announced on Twitter by Fanshen Cox DiGiovani, a senior executive at their Pearl Street production company. In the announcement DiGiovani also referred to actor Michael B. Jordan’s announcement last week that his company, Outlier Society Productions, would adopt riders for its projects.

. @michaelb4jordan Thank you for always supporting broader representation in the industry. On behalf of Pearl Street Films, Matt Damon, @BenAffleck , Jennifer Todd, Drew Vinton & I will be adopting the #InclusionRider for all of our projects moving forward. https://t.co/ODit24D2Rb
— Fanshen (@fanshen) March 13, 2018

Public-relations-wise, it’s a positive move for Affleck and Damon. Their reputations were badly tarnished by their association with Harvey Weinstein and what was perceived as their tone-deaf responses to #MeToo efforts to denounce a Hollywood culture that has long enabled sexual misconduct and gender inequality.
Rose McGowan claimed that she told Affleck immediately after Weinstein allegedly raped her at the Sundance Film Festival in 1997, but he went forward with statements about Weinstein in the fall, claiming that he was not aware that the producer had allegedly preyed on women.
Producer Harvey Weinstein and actors Ben Affleck and Matt Damon in 2010. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) 
Very soon after Affleck said he was “saddened and angry” over the Weinstein allegations, the A-list star was reminded on social media that perhaps his own record on treating women inappropriately issue isn’t so clean. Actress Hilarie Burton claimed on social media that Affleck groped her during an appearance of MTV’s Total Request Live in 2003.
Meanwhile, Damon also claimed he was unaware of Weinstein’s alleged misconduct. But then he subsequently made statements about sexual harassment that many, including his ex-girlfriend and “Good Will Hunting co-star Minnie Driver, found to be poorly informed.
Matt Damon and actor Casey Affleck in December 2016. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for The Critics’ Choice Awards ) 
Both men also have been blasted for their failure to address sexual harassment allegations against Affleck’s brother Casey Affleck. Damon was producer for Casey Affleck’s film “Manchester by the Sea” and successfully campaigned for him to win an Oscar last year, even as Casey Affleck was dogged by harassment lawsuits filed against him in 2010 by two women.
The idea that Damon is signing onto the idea of inclusion riders certainly marks a public pivot for him from the apparent disregard he showed for diversity in film projects up until recently.
Damon was accused of being privileged and out-of-touch following a 2015 episode of his HBO reality show “Project Greenlight.”
Damon famously dismissed African-American producer Effie Brown’s concerns about the lack of diversity among the show’s contestants, saying that diversity happened “in the casting of the film, not in the casting of the show.”
A short time later he stirred another controversy when he talked to a journalist about perceptions that he and his long-time movie star friend Ben Affleck were gay.
Damon said, “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.”
Not surprisingly, many people pointed out that he, as a straight actor, has never had to keep quiet about the fact that he’s married to a woman and has a family.
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With regard to the diversity comments, Damon apologized, saying in a statement to the Hollywood Reporter: “I believe deeply that there needs to be more diverse filmmakers making movies. … I am sorry that they offended some people, but, at the very least, I am happy that they started a conversation about diversity in Hollywood. That is an ongoing conversation that we all should be having.”
As for the comments about gay actors, he tried to clarify things with talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, according to The Guardian, telling her: “I was just trying to say actors are more effective when they’re a mystery. Right?”

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