From 4-22-15 episode of The Rob Black Show LIVE 11-2pm M-F
There was something that happened last week that thoroughly amused me. Ben Affleck got into trouble. Well, he really didn’t get into trouble. Let me explain.
Ben Affleck has done a lot to position himself as a face. By face, I mean good guy. Affleck’s trying to get away from being known as a douche. He went through being the drunken poker player hanging out with Matt Damon and Kevin Smith and strippers to dating Jennifer Lopez and being in horrible movies like Gigli with her.
Affleck then went through this transformation. He got with Jennifer Garner and directed the Oscar winning film Argo. He moved from being an arrogant Hollywood douchebag to being a respected member of the community. He also appeared in the well received film Gone Girl directed by David Fincher.
Ben’s done a pretty good job of reinventing himself. This latest hubbub kinda puts him back in the douchebag category. It’s another example of a a Hollywood big shot throwing his weight around over something that really is kind of innocuous. Flexing his celebrity muscle for something pretty innocent.
There is a TV show on PBS called Finding Your Roots. They take celebrities and trace their ancestors back hundreds of years. They start with the mom and dad and work their way down from there. They go way back. Back far enough that there’s no one still alive from that era. We’re talking way back. 1800’s back.
They did the whole ancestor trace on Ben Affleck and it turns out he had relatives who owned slaves. When Affleck found this out, he lobbied the producers and had some people as Sony speak on his behalf to get that part of the program quashed. He wanted to edit out the section where it talked about his ancestors owning slaves.
All of this information leaked out during the Sony email hacking. When the emails were first leaked, they were spread out all over the internet in random order. The website Wikileaks compiled everything and catalogued the emails so specific information could be more easily accessed.
So people have been going on Wikileaks and looking at emails. They are finding all kinds of juicy nuggets of info that got lost before everything was organized. Now that the files are organized, people are taking the time and going through the emails and indexing these nuggets of gold.
Finding Your Roots is hosted and produced by Henry Louis Gates. The email exchange between Gates and Sony Pictures co-chairman Michael Lynton has Gates seeking advice on how to deal with Affleck’s request.
“Here’s my dilemma, confidentially, for the first time, one of our guests has asked us to edit out something about one of his ancestors — the fact that he owned slaves. Now, four or five of our guests this season descend from slave owners, including (prolific documentary filmmaker) Ken Burns. We’ve never had anyone ever try to censor or edit what we found. He’s a megastar. What do we do?”
Right there, it just screams of Affleck’s douchebaginess. I mean, there are other people who also had slave owning great grandfathers. If you don’t come from immigrants and your family history goes back in America for a coupla hundred years, chances are they’re gonna find a little slave action going on. It’s just part of our history. But Ben didn’t want it to be part of Affleck history, so he changed it.
Lynton replies. This is great. It’s like CIA stuff. He say it all depends on who knows what the information was in the documentary already.
“I would take it out if no one knows, but if it gets out that you are editing the material based on this kind of sensitivity then it gets tricky. Again, all things being equal I would definitely take it out.”
So when the segment aired Oct. 14, Gates focused on an Affleck ancestor who was an occultist, a Revolutionary War relative and Affleck’s mother, who was a “freedom rider” in 1964. PBS said they had no knowledge of the email exchanges and weren’t part of the editorial decisions made by Gates and the producers.
Affleck came out with a statement that said what he did was no different than lobbying a producer to use or not to use certain takes.
After an exhaustive search of my ancestry for “Finding Your Roots,” it was discovered that one of my distant relatives was an owner of slaves.
I didn’t want any television show about my family to include a guy who owned slaves. I was embarrassed. The very thought left a bad taste in my mouth.
Skip decided what went into the show. I lobbied him the same way I lobby directors about what takes of mine I think they should use. This is the collaborative creative process. Skip agreed with me on the slave owner but made other choices I disagreed with. In the end, it’s his show and I knew that going in. I’m proud to be his friend and proud to have participated.
It’s important to remember that this isn’t a news program. Finding Your Roots is a show where you voluntarily provide a great deal of information about your family, making you quite vulnerable. The assumption is that they will never be dishonest but they will respect your willingness to participate and not look to include things you think would embarrass your family.
I regret my initial thoughts that the issue of slavery not be included in the story. We deserve neither credit nor blame for our ancestors and the degree of interest in this story suggests that we are, as a nation, still grappling with the terrible legacy of slavery. It is an examination well worth continuing. I am glad that my story, however indirectly, will contribute to that discussion. While I don’t like that the guy is an ancestor, I am happy that aspect of our country’s history is being talked about.
That’s Ben Affleck’s response. It once again shows that Ben is still the same old douche he was. First to try to somewhat rewrite his family’s history, then when he gets caught try to spin it into a “hands up, don’t shoot” moment.
When Affleck talks about the “terrible legacy of slavery” and “contributing to the discussion” it’s kind of douchey, because the issue isn’t about slavery or racism, it’s really about Ben Affleck being a Hollywood dickhead throwing his weight around and getting a documentary changed.
I don’t think anyone looked at this story as a learning moment. It’s not a “hands up, don’t shoot” moment. There’s nothing in Affleck’s family history that is relevant to the police shooting unarmed black men. This story is about Ben Affleck being a douche.
Ben Affleck, who is friend to the Muslims, who is an intelligent man and who has a lot of friends of different nationalities and talks about the environment and drinks chai latte at Starbucks and conserves bath water and married Jennifer Garner who is smarter and classier than Jennifer Lopez and her big butt. He doesn’t hang out with Kevin Smith anymore and he has a squeaky clean family of freedom riders. This is all about Ben Affleck’s image, not whether to not he is a slave owner or supports slavery or is a racist.
Slavery is a big chunk of America’s history. Anyone who has roots going back hundreds of years in America is bound to have had some family members who had Kunta Kinte plowing the fields. Great great grandpa probably did some Patsey whipping back in the day. Half of the country had slaves on up until the 1860s. Our founding fathers had slaves.
So I doubt if anyone would have been shocked to find out that Ben Affleck had relatives who were slave owners years and years ago. Just like someone who is born in Germany would likely have a grandfather who worked in a death camp. Germans pretty much all have Nazi ancestors. That’s the way it was. You either went along with the program or were killed.
This story is about Ben Affleck and him being a douche. He has a long history of being douchey. Having conversations about race was not what people were getting out of this story. Ben Affleck being a douche and using his influence to change a movie and rewrite his history is what people got out of the story.
Ben Affleck, you are a douche. You were a douche 20 years ago and you are still a douche. You can argue with Bill Maher, marry Jennifer Garner and have a rainbow coalition of Starbucks bros, but you are still a douche.
End of story.