Matt Damon Humanized Oil Workers, But Will He Change His Mind About Killing Their Jobs?

Matt Damon Humanized Oil Workers, But Will He Change His Mind About Killing Their Jobs?

Matt Damon's comments were a refreshing departure from the harassment, belittling, and stereotyping that elites usually inflict on Trump-supporting, blue-collar men. 
Evita Duffy
By

“These were wonderful people,” said Matt Damon of the right-leaning “roughnecks” who work in the Oklahoma oil industry. The actor, outspoken climate activist, and Joe Biden/Kamala Harris fan showed admiration and empathy for the blue-collar, Trump-supporting oil rig workers who are usually vilified by Hollywood. His comments, as understated as they were, made plenty of headlines, an indication of just how vilified conservatives are by Hollywood elites and the corporate media. 

Damon is starring in “Stillwater,” a film set to release July 30 about a middle-aged Oklahoma oil rig worker who learns his estranged daughter has been arrested and charged with murder in France. He moves to France and dedicates himself to exonerating her. 

During a news conference last Friday, Damon said he spent “critical” time with oil rig workers to prepare for the role, and called the experience “eye opening.” “Being invited into their homes, into a backyard barbecue, and the guitar comes out and somebody starts singing church songs. It’s a culturally very specific place and very different from how he and I grew up. So it was really fascinating, and these people were wonderful to us and really helped us,” he said.

“He’s completely — these guys don’t apologize for who they are or what they believe — ever. ‘Do you own a gun?’ ‘Yeah. I got two.’ You know what I mean?’” Damon continued. 

“[T]hey’re strong guys,” he added, “because that stuff is heavy that they’re lifting, but they’re not six-pack guys with their abs. They’re big, but they’re strong; that kind of informed every little detail about the physicality of it and then everything that was going on inside with them.”

The comments were a refreshing departure from the harassment, belittling, and stereotyping usually inflicted by elites in Hollywood and the corporate media on the Trump-supporting, blue-collar men who are the backbone of America’s infrastructure and economy. 

The “basket of deplorables,” as Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton so disparagingly called them, are constantly subjected to snobbish racism and classism that hasn’t subsided since Trump left office. 

Not only are Trump supporters mocked and derided, but conservatives in general are increasingly considered “dangerous hacks,” as one Vanity Fair writer puts it. We live in a time members of the corporate media actively lobby for big tech companies to suppress and censor conservative speech, and the tech oligarchs willingly comply.  

Spending time up close and personal with America’s working class allowed Damon to see the men he was trying to embody as real people, not a stereotype. More surprising is that he was also brave enough to say what he saw and how he really felt to the corporate media who are the drivers of Trump derangement and MAGA country hatred.   

When a reporter asked Damon if he thought his character voted for Trump, Damon responded, “Yeah, I mean, if Oklahoma, I think was the reddest state in the last two elections, and you talk to those roughnecks, they’re always going to vote — I mean, they’re in the oil business. Their livelihood depends on that. And so I don’t even think it’s a question at all. And I think if we — we didn’t want to make it expressly political — and I think he is who he is and he’s from where he’s from, and the movie has a lot of empathy for him, and so do we.”

Of course, Damon is right. In 2016 and 2020, workers with jobs connected to oil and gas, in places like Oklahoma and Texas, threw dollars and votes behind President Trump, who delivered on American energy independence.

By contrast, as The Federalist’s Jordan Davidson writes, “On his first day in office, President Joe Biden, the self-professed champion of unity in the United States, waged a war on the oil and gas industry, effectively destroying thousands of working-class Americans’ livelihoods.” Americans of every political persuasion are currently experiencing the consequences of Biden’s crusade against the energy industry every time they fill their cars up with gas. 

This past week, in response to dissatisfaction with rising gas prices, the Biden administration begged the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to increase production, a move that completely undermines their claims to have shut down American energy because of environmental concerns. While Biden is harming oil and gas workers at home, abroad he has also decided to roll back Trump-era sanctions, including restrictions on its sale of oil, on Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terror.

Most of Damon’s Hollywood friends are unfazed by this hypocrisy. In fact, a day after the American Automobile Association announced gas prices have risen 40 percent since the beginning of the year, “celebrities joined Democrat donors and climate activists urging President Joe Biden to slash an oil pipeline that would distribute 760,000 barrels per day,” reported The Federalist’s Gabe Kaminsky. 

It would serve Damon’s friends in Hollywood well to follow his example and walk in the shoes of the working man. If they did, they might not be so quick to impugn half the country and eradicate so many people’s livelihoods and ability to make ends meet.

The big question for Damon is if after meeting these workers and being so warmly invited into their homes, will he continue to fund the politicians and advocate for the policies that are killing their jobs? Probably. But from his comments, it appears Damon was at least able to understand that blue-collar workers vote red (and love Trump) because their jobs depend on it, not because they are racist, sexist, homophobic, or xenophobic. And that’s a start.

Evita Duffy is an intern at The Federalist, co-founder of the Chicago Thinker, and a senior at the University of Chicago. Follow her on Twitter at @evitaduffy_1

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