Rotherham: Matt Damon Seems Blissfully Ignorant Of Many Things. So Why Should We Listen To Him On Schools?
Rotherham: Matt Damon Seems Blissfully Ignorant of Many Things. So Why Should We Listen to Him on Schools?
Why should you listen to school advice from Matt Damon?
The Academy Award winner is returning to the world of education, a role he has played in before as a passionate defender of public schools. This time, Damon narrates a documentary called "Backpack Full of Cash," which explores the opposition to school choice and has received funding from teachers unions, among others. It’s fine to have differing opinions on choice policies, so whether or not you choose to watch the film is up to you.
However, when it comes to taking education advice from a celebrity narrator, it’s worth considering why you would trust this particular individual.
To refresh your memory, Damon was last in the spotlight regarding education when he complained that there was not a single traditional public or charter school in Los Angeles that was progressive enough for his children, forcing him to send them to private school. This assertion was clearly unfounded, as the superintendent of Los Angeles Schools promptly offered to show Damon the available options.
I don’t blame someone in Damon’s high-profile position for wanting to send their children to private school, with security and privacy being important factors. The issue at hand was whether others should have the choice to do the same, especially considering Damon’s emergence as an anti-reform figure. Chris Stewart of pointed out that the problem wasn’t necessarily hypocrisy, but rather Damon using his own ideology as a weapon to hinder others. In any case, the entire incident was noticeably deceitful and disheartening for those of us who had hoped the actor embodied some of the qualities of his character in "Good Will Hunting."
Coincidentally, Damon is once again making headlines for his close relationship with disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein. He was accused of pressuring The New York Times to suppress a negative story about Weinstein or his accomplices in 2004. Damon denied attempting to quash that particular story about sexual misconduct, and the facts seem to support his side of the story. However, in distancing himself from Weinstein, Damon claimed ignorance about the extent of Weinstein’s behavior, insinuating that he would have put a stop to it had he known of any "predation."
This scenario sounds familiar. As we are now discovering, many in the industry, including those close to Damon, were aware of Weinstein’s misconduct. You didn’t have to witness it firsthand to know that it was taking place. Damon’s vehement denials lose their credibility when his close friend Ben Affleck later admitted to similar behavior. Additionally, Damon has faced accusations of pressuring media outlets to downplay harassment claims against his production partner Casey Affleck during his Oscar campaign this year. He even appeared on a mock poster that aimed to manipulate the press in favor of Weinstein.
So, it’s possible that Damon genuinely remained ignorant of the abhorrent behavior occurring around him. Alternatively, the Oscar-winning actor could simply be unaware of Hollywood’s darker side. Yet, as more reports emerge revealing Weinstein’s pattern of sexual harassment as an open secret in Hollywood, Damon appears to be one of the few genuinely surprised individuals.
In other words, his claims of ignorance are as unconvincing as his belief that his affluent family had no option but to choose private school. Nevertheless, let’s give Damon the benefit of the doubt and assume that he was truly the only person in the film industry who had no idea about Weinstein’s actions. Yet, I am certainly not going to take educational guidance, let alone parenting advice, from someone so oblivious to what is happening in their own surroundings.
Perhaps you should think twice as well.