Matt Damon regularly annoys the hell out of me. That is the Matt Damon in real life spouting off his wisdom (because being an actor/writer/producer makes him so much smarter than ME who doesn’t realize that there is a global water shortage even though I do realize our planet is mostly water). Matt Damon–the actor–while he is at his business acting–(I just watched the remake of “True Grit”) is one hellaciously fine human being.
This acknowledgement of hard work and skill, the appreciation of it, the recognition of a man who lives his life working hard and staying out of the tabloids, is what Matt Damon’s million dollar salary, his success, his influence on the American Public is all about.
Matt Damon has been an actor for a long time, like Lindsay Lohan. But no one pays any real attention to what Lindsay says. She may have had talent as an actress once, but we all know she isn’t dedicated to her job. She has no charity to fall back into. She can’t even offer a consistent political opinion. And so, America ignores her, for the most part, except as a freakshow of what happens to people who don’t value and honor their work, even if their work is just a little too much like prostitution to be on America’s top ten lists of honored professions.
Matt Damon’s success, despite his proclivity to offend a good deal of his viewing audience regularly, is a sign of how much Americans still value hard work and skill–both of which are evident in everything Matt Damon does with only a few, acceptable, exceptions (like kissing asses of his peers on entertainment television).
Hard work, walking the line and improving your skill are all values that Americans revere. That’s why people who disagree with Matt Damon politically will still put money in his pocket by going to see his movies. We do it because he works hard and he’s damn good at his job. We like that. We respect that.
And that’s what Matt Damon (and his success) teaches us about American values.