If Matt Damon’s a homophobe, then I’m Jason Bourne
Of all the people I ever expected to have to defend, Jason Bourne really wasn’t one of them. Throughout the film trilogy, the CIA agent seemed more than capable of taking care of himself. To be honest, he seemed like he would have been hindered by having a writer from Staffordshire backing him up in the field. But it’s a funny old world we live in.
This is the news that Bourne star Matt Damon, not the fictitious character himself, has become the latest victim of the offence-seeking Twittersphere. It all started with a seemingly innocuous comment he made in an interview with the Observer:
‘In terms of actors, 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.’
Somehow, certain members of the Twitterati have managed to take from those comments that Damon thought gay actors should ‘get back in the closet’. The ensuing blog outrage was so intense, Damon felt the need to address the comments on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Come on, guys, this is Matt Damon we are talking about. The man is a Harvard-educated Massachusetts liberal, so achingly politically correct that in order to take the piss out of him in Team America, alongside a host of other right-on celebrities, Trey Parker and Matt Stone only felt the need to have Damon’s puppet repeat his own name.
On top of his impeccably liberal and politically correct record, what he was saying actually makes perfect sense. If your job involves pretending to be someone other than yourself, it stands to reason that the less people know about what you are actually like the better. This is, at least, part of the reason Daniel Day-Lewis has won three Oscars and Tom Cruise has won none. The ability to shroud yourself in mystery as an actor is an asset that makes it easier to inhabit the roles you play.
Damon has publicly supported same-sex marriage and is clearly, unless the word has truly lost all meaning, not a homophobe. He was merely stating an opinion, which is presumably what people want from him in an interview. No one was compelled to agree with his statement, and he didn’t for one moment suggest that gay actors couldn’t convincingly play straight roles, or vice versa.
Having said all that, what Matt Damon does or doesn’t think is of almost total irrelevance. He is an actor, and a pretty damn good one, too. That is what matters. Can we please get back to assessing these people on the merits of their work, rather than giving unwarranted credence to the perpetually offended, self-appointed thoughtpolice of the internet?
Guy Birchall is a writer based in Stoke.