While Matt Damon continues to do interviews to promote his movie Downsizing/defend the rights of men who merely sexually harass women instead of raping them, there is a movement gaining ground in reaction to his comments. On Twitter and in an online petition, people are calling on the producers of Ocean's 8 to remove the actor's cameo in the upcoming film.
The petition cites the rumour that Damon acted to silence a New York Times story in 2004 that would have exposed Harvey Weinstein's sexual assault and harassment of women. Damon has since denied that he did anything like that in an interview with ABC News' Peter Travers. But in that same sitdown, the actor provoked even more criticism by asking, "We’re going to have to figure — you know, there’s a difference between, you know, patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation, right?"
Damon also told Business Insider that he would consider whether to work with an accused sexual predator "on a case-by-case basis."
"Damon's inclusion would trivialise the serious nature of the charges against sexual abusers like Weinstein — and show massive disrespect for the brave women speaking out," Rebecca G wrote in the petition. "I'm calling on Ocean's 8 producers George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh to toss Damon's Ocean's 8 cameo where it belongs: on the cutting room floor."
Would the movie's creators or studio actually listen to such a petition, which is getting close to its goal of 17,000 signatures as we write this story? Probably not. There's the expense of re-editing a movie to consider, not to mention the close friendship between Clooney and Damon. They're likely hoping that by the time the movie comes out next June, Damon will have kept his mouth shut for a while. If stars Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett stepped in to ask the scene to be cut, perhaps that would be a different story. Also, weren't there other Ocean's Eleven stars around to do a cameo instead? Is Brad Pitt busy?
The victory for the petitioners now lies in the fact that people are talking about this. The more men realise it's not okay to be silent or complicit when another man abuses his power sexually, the better chance we have to "blow up this cycle of abuse," as Jessica Chastain put it.
Refinery29 has reached out to reps for Damon and Warner Bros. for comment.
If you have experienced sexual violence of any kind, please visit Rape Crisis or call 0808 802 9999.
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