With the changing media landscape, many public figures have had to learn about picking their words carefully. All too easily can a single word be taken out of context and spun into a clickbait headline.
One of those stars who have learned that lesson is Matt Damon.
In an interview with The Sunday Times, the “Stillwater” star eloquently put how careful many celebrities need to be with exactly what they say.
“Twenty years ago, the best way I can put it is that the journalist listened to the music more than the lyrics [of an interview]. Now your lyrics are getting parsed, to pull them out of context and get the best headline possible,” Damon said. “Everyone needs clicks. Before it didn’t really matter what I said, because it didn’t make the news. But maybe this shift is a good thing. So I shut the f*** up more.”
Damon has learned this lesson in the past when he made a comment in 2017 during the sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein.
“As the father of four daughters, this is the kind of sexual predation that keeps me up at night,” Damon said at the time. He faced backlash as some said all people should be angry, not just a parent.
It is one of those things where his thoughts didn’t come across in headlines, but the Oscar winner understands why people were upset. “I understand,” he said. “It’s a fair point. Anybody should be offended by that behaviour.”
Damon also expressed how learning about using the right language in today’s landscape is important. A lesson taught to him by his daughter after he used a derogatory word for gay people.
“The word that my daughter calls the ‘f-slur for a homosexual’ was commonly used when I was a kid, with a different application,” he explained. “I made a joke, months ago, and got a treatise from my daughter. She left the table. I said, ‘Come on, that’s a joke! I say it in the movie ‘Stuck on You’!’ She went to her room and wrote a very long, beautiful treatise on how that word is dangerous. I said, ‘I retire the f-slur!’ I understood.”
A powerful lesson in what we all can achieve if we are open and willing to listen.