Matt Damon is facing backlash after revealing in an interview that he stopped using the "f-slur for a homosexual" only months ago after his daughter taught him "how that word is dangerous."
In an interview with The Sunday Times, Damon said, "The word that my daughter calls the ‘f-slur for a homosexual’ was commonly used when I was a kid, with a different application."
“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 three school-aged daughters and a stepdaughter in her early 20s.
Damon, 50, told the anecdote "as part of a wider conversation about changes in modern masculinity," according to the article, which spends the majority of its word count lamenting the dissolution of the movie-going public's obsession with leading men in Hollywood.
"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 is quoted as saying before his slur story. "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.”
The article's author notes that Damon's story is "exactly the sort of anecdote people make headlines about."
Critics on social media said Damon's admission was just as odd as his decision to share the story with the world.
"I have ranch dressing that has been in my fridge longer than Matt Damon has NOT been using a homophobic slur and he somehow thinks he deserves praise for this Herculean effort," wrote Michigan House Rep. Laurie Pohutsky.
"I want to know what word Matt Damon has replaced f****t with," wondered comedian Billy Eichner.
Responding to the criticism, Damon said Monday that given the hostility that persists within the LGBTQ community, he understood why “my statement led many to assume the worst.” But he clarified that he had never used the slur in his personal life and that the conversation with his daughter was not a “personal awakening.”
“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.
“She in turn expressed incredulity that there could ever have been a time where that word was used unthinkingly,” he said. “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 [was] thrilled at her passion, values and desire for social justice.”
He added: "To be as clear as I can be, I stand with the LGBTQ+ community."
Damon's latest film, "Stillwater," has received pushback from Amanda Knox, who was convicted and acquitted of murder in Italy and says the movie is profiting off her story without her approval.
The Sunday Times article mentioned Knox's criticism of the film, but doesn't include any response from Damon.