Actor appeared to stress the "difference" between degrees of inappropriate behaviour
Matt Damon has been criticised over comments he made when speaking about sexual misconduct in a new interview.
Damon was speaking during an edition of Popcorn with Peter Travers on ABC News when he shared his views about the recent wave of sexual assault and harassment allegations in Hollywood.
“I think it’s wonderful that women are feeling empowered to tell their stories and it’s totally necessary,” Damon said before adding that he believes that there’s a “spectrum” of inappropriate behaviour.
He continued: “There’s a difference between patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation, right? Both of those behaviours need to be confronted and eradicated without question, but they shouldn’t be conflated.”
“All of that behaviour needs to be confronted, but there is a continuum,” the actor went on. “And on this end of the continuum where you have rape and child molestation or whatever, you know, that’s prison. Right? And that’s what needs to happen. OK? And then we can talk about rehabilitation and everything else. That’s criminal behaviour, and it needs to be dealt with that way. The other stuff is just kind of shameful and gross… I just think that we have to kind of start delineating between what these behaviours are.”
Damon also described the current climate as being a “culture of outrage and injury”, adding: “We’re going to have to correct enough to kind of go, ‘Wait a minute. None of us came here perfect.’”
During the interview, Damon also spoke about the differing allegations levelled at figures like Louis CK, Harvey Weinstein and Al Franken.
Speaking about CK’s apology, Damon said: “That’s the sign of somebody who — well, we can work with that… I don’t know Louis C.K.. I’ve never met him. I’m a fan of his, but I don’t imagine he’s going to do those things again. You know what I mean? I imagine the price that he’s paid at this point is so beyond anything.”
Meanwhile, Damon described Franken’s indiscretions as “just like a terrible joke”, adding: “It’s not funny. It’s wrong, and he shouldn’t have done that.”
Damon has since faced a backlash online over his remarks, with many arguing that his logic could be seen as excusing some instances of inappropriate behaviour.
“Each violation fuels rape culture and sends the message that a woman’s body is not hers alone,” one Twitter user wrote.
Another added: “Men who splits hairs on the issue of sexual violence are waving a flag so red, it’ll burn your eyes.”
“Maybe Matt needs this is terms he can better grasp,” one tweet began. “There’s a difference between Ben Affleck as Daredevil & Ben Affleck as Batman but it doesn’t mean both aren’t bad.”
Another tweet read: “Lately Matt Damon is making me reconsider my decades-held assertion that Ben’s the dumb one.”
At the time of publishing, Damon has not yet responded to the controversy over his comments.
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It’s not the first time Damon has addressed sexual assault allegations. Speaking about the Weinstein scandal in October, he described the shamed Hollywood mogul as an “asshole” and confirmed that he knew of Gwyneth Paltrow’s accusations about Weinstein.