Ben Affleck and his friend Matt Damon, who were both close professional partners of accused rapist Harvey Weinstein, have answered Frances McDormand’s call to add “inclusion riders” to future contracts.
Many viewers outside of the industry were baffled when McDormand finished her Oscar acceptance speech by saying: “I have two words for you: inclusion rider.”
An “inclusion rider” is a clause that requires cast and crew on a film to meet a certain level of diversity. In theory, anyone with enough power to bend money men to their will, be they actors, producers or directors, could get such a clause included.
Affleck and Damon’s adoption of the cause was announced on Twitter by Fanshen Cox DiGiovani, a senior executive at their Pearl Street production company.
Affleck and Damon have both been badly tarnished by the Weinstein scandal and their ham-fisted response to the wider Time’s Up movement.
In her book Brave, Rose McGowan writes that immediately after Weinstein allegedly raped her, she told her co-star, later identified as Affleck, and Affleck said: “Goddamn it, I told him to stop doing that.”
Affleck has denied making the comment and an email he wrote was quoted in an infamous statement released by Weinstein that appeared intended to discredit McGowan. In the email to Weinstein, Affleck said: “Rose never told me nor did I ever infer that she was attacked by anyone. Any accounts to the contrary are false.”
Meanwhile, archive footage of Affleck groping former TRL host Hilarie Burton live on air forced the actor into a humiliating apology.
Damon has denied knowing anything about Weinstein’s pattern of behavior, saying: “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.”
The Good Will Hunting star was berated by some of his peers in the industry in December last year after he made tin-eared comments about the effect of sexual harassment.
“You know, there’s a difference between, you now, patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation, right?” he said. “Both of those behaviors need to be confronted and eradicated without question, but they shouldn’t be conflated, right?”
Minnie Driver, who starred with Damon in Good Will Hunting and once dated him, told The Guardian that men “simply cannot understand what abuse is like on a daily level.”
Alyssa Milano said she had “been a victim of each component of the sexual assault spectrum” that Damon mentioned.
“They all hurt,” Milano said. “And they are all connected to a patriarchy intertwined with normalized, accepted–even welcomed–misogyny.”
Damon later apologized, saying: “I really wish I’d listened a lot more before I weighed in on this. I don’t want to further anybody’s pain with anything that I do or say. So for that I’m really sorry.”
So, when it comes to inclusion riders, one cheer for Pearl Street productions, a tremendous place to start.