Matt Damon has said that he only stopped using the word fag/faggot in reference to gay people after his daughter asked him to stop doing so a few months ago.
Damon, 50, gave an interview to the UK’s Sunday Times yesterday in which he talked about his career, new movie Stillwater, and fatherhood.
“The word that my daughter calls the ‘f-slur for a homosexual’ was commonly used when I was a kid, with a different application,” Damon told the British outlet.
“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.”
Damon has four daughters with his wife, Luciana Barroso. They are aged between 10 and 22. He didn’t say which daughter had reprimanded him over his language.
It’s unsure what he means by the “f-slur” having “a different application” when he was younger. Although slang for a cigarette in the UK, it’s been a pretty standard term of anti-gay abuse in the US, where Damon was born and raised, for decades.
Damon’s surprising admission provoked plenty of comments online. Among those to criticize him was comic and actor Billy Eichner.
Imagine this headline about any other derogatory ethnic/racial/religious etc slur being used in 2021. People would be up in arms and rightfully so. But you’re still allowed to be homophobic in this fake-woke industry. HAPPY PRIDE!!! 🌈🌈🌈🌈
— billy eichner (@billyeichner) August 1, 2021
In a widely-liked tweet, Eichner said, “I want to know what word Matt Damon has replaced f****t with.”
I want to know what word Matt Damon has replaced f****t with.
— billy eichner (@billyeichner) August 1, 2021
Remember when the joke was that Ben Affleck was the dumb one and Matt Damon was the smart one? Because one is dating J-Lo and the other is spending the year of our lord Dolly Parton 2021 bragging about how he just stopped saying “fag.”
— Jaclyn Moore (@JaclynPMoore) August 1, 2021
Many expressed surprise that Damon thought this a good story to share.
why would matt damon freely share that lol
— Craig Bro Dude (@CraigSJ) August 1, 2021
The fact that Matt Damon’s daughter had to explain to him that saying a slur is wrong is insane pic.twitter.com/KeOIlxRZP8
— Cedrica (@iamcedrica) August 1, 2021
Others referenced classic Damon roles.
Matt Damon’s daughter in her bedroom writing a treatise on why it was problematic to beat Dickie Greenleaf to death with an oar
— Anthony Oliveira (@meakoopa) August 1, 2021
I’m shocked, absolutely fucking shocked. pic.twitter.com/bIMHWgT3Rm
— Joey R Johnson 👨👨👦🏳️🌈 (@Johnson__joey) August 1, 2021
Imagine making multiple movies with Gus Van Sant and this somehow never coming up.
— Tim Carvell (@timcarvell) August 1, 2021
Elsewhere in the interview, which praised the actor as potentially, “the last of Hollywood’s leading men”, Damon also commented on how he felt journalism had changed over the last couple of decades. He said that quotes were often now taken out of context to create clickbait headlines, and this had made him more likely to keep his mouth shut.
“I just think that there’s a tendency now… “ he began. “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.
“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-k up more.”
Maybe this is one of those times he’ll be wishing he kept his mouth shut.
Matt Damon arriving home to check Twitter pic.twitter.com/XV2l08JkK8
— Tom Reagan’s Hat (@RufusTSuperfly) August 1, 2021
UPDATE August 03, 2021
Following worldwide media reports about the Sunday Times interview, Matt Damon issued a statement to The Hollywood Reporter denying he had used the f-word in his personal life.
“During a recent interview, I recalled a discussion I had with my daughter where I attempted to contextualize for her the progress that has been made – though by no means completed – since I was growing up in Boston and, as a child, heard the word ‘f*g’ used on the street before I knew what it even referred to,” he said.
“I explained that that word was used constantly and casually and was even a line of dialogue in a movie of mine as recently as 2003; she in turn expressed incredulity that there could ever have been a time where that word was used unthinkingly. To my admiration and pride, she was extremely articulate about the extent to which that word would have been painful to someone in the LGBTQ+ community regardless of how culturally normalized it was. I not only agreed with her but thrilled at her passion, values and desire for social justice.”
He added, “I have never called anyone ‘f****t’ in my personal life and this conversation with my daughter was not a personal awakening. I do not use slurs of any kind. I have learned that eradicating prejudice requires active movement toward justice rather than finding passive comfort in imagining myself ‘one of the good guys.’ And given that open hostility against the LGBTQ+ community is still not uncommon, I understand why my statement led many to assume the worst. To be as clear as I can be, I stand with the LGBTQ+ community.”