Why Good Guy Ben Affleck Doesn't Need To Apologize For His Lineage
Ben Affleck continues to demonstrate he's nothing short of a class act.
In a move worthy of his newfound Southern charm, Affleck went on record to apologize to the media regarding the recent controversy surrounding his family history.
As a brief summary, Affleck was a guest on PBS's “Finding Your Roots,” a show in which celebrities volunteer to have their genealogy dug up in an attempt to trace their lineage back to modern day.
Affleck's episode originally aired in October of last year, but his real story wasn't revealed until recently. As history would have it, Affleck found out his family tree included a rotten apple.
Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the show's moderator, disclosed a piece of information that would make any one of us cringe: Affleck's great-great-great grandfather, a man by the name of Benjamin Cole, was, indeed, an owner of more than 25 slaves. This fact would make him part of the Southern elite, the upper echelon of society.
Upon hearing this, one can only imagine the level of embarrassment Affleck himself had to endure; this is a man who literally stands on the opposite side of the spectrum. Affleck is the founder of the Eastern Congo Initiative, an advocacy and grant-providing group whose main focus is to work with and for the people of the Congo.
But, here is where it gets tricky.
After this heinous discovery was made, Affleck asked this shameful blemish be omitted from the show. Gates was a man between a rock and a hard place. He asked Sony Chairman Michael Lynton for advice on the matter.
Upon finding out about the predicament, Lynton said if it were up to him, he would definitely take it out.
After careful consideration, Affleck's request was granted and other ancestors were highlighted, instead, so the show would have more of a positive impact on its viewers.
As if the story wasn't convoluted already, none of this would be public knowledge had it not been for whistleblower WikiLeaks publishing an email exchange between Affleck and PBS.
This is the same Internet hack responsible for infamous nude celebrity selfies, as well as the backlash stemming from the North Korea spoof film, “The Interview.”
Slowly but surely, this scandal climbed the charts and trended on the biggest news outlets in the country.
The reason behind this is the fact that it involves two of the most controversial topics in the United States right now: privacy and racism.
Affleck's case, on the other hand, is a bit different. His appearance was entirely voluntary, which means there's an inherent waiver of confidentiality.
Unless Affleck signed a disclosure agreement (which hasn't surfaced), PBS was at the discretion to transmit any and all information uncovered during its investigative report.
The failure to cover his legal bases resulted in Affleck being front and center. The lack of proactivity among both parties should take the blame for this unnecessary fiasco.
In this day and age, it seems as though anything that's racially motivated will make headlines. More often than not, it'll be caught by people trying to make light of the situation in an attempt to be funny.
In this case, it's safe to say Larry Wilmore, host of “The Nightly Show” on Comedy Central, tried and failed miserably.
Wilmore's staff put together a skit of the ancestor in question in the form of a hologram, which was as hysterical as a root canal.
What's surprising about this situation is that, instead of siding with Affleck on the matter, Wilmore chastised him for doing the right thing.
Affleck was clearly appalled by the show's findings, and Wilmore's antics were like salt crystals on an already painful emotional wound. It's easy to sit there and say Affleck is just “sorry he got caught” hiding factual evidence; I'm sure that's what Wilmore was thinking.
It's hard for me to fathom, however, why Wilmore chose to shine the spotlight on this trivial fib, as opposed to promoting Affleck's initiative in Africa, which, in the grand scheme of things, would be a lot more beneficial to worldwide progress.
If you ask me, the show's integrity isn't compromised at all. If anything, people should have more respect when watching it from now on. The fact that this truth about Affleck's ancestor has been uncovered should provide even more credibility for viewers to appreciate.
His post-facto apology shouldn't be looked down upon; quite the contrary, it's commendable he's following in the footsteps of Anderson Cooper, a celebrity with a similar ancestral past involving race.
Affleck's privacy was, indeed, violated, regardless of the circumstances under which it was disseminated.
I strongly believe any one of us would think long and hard about making this information public, especially with the scrutiny that accompanies Affleck's true intentions in the world.
His apology was unmerited, but he gave it, anyway; that, to me, is going above and beyond, all while showing the kind of human being he strives to represent.
Ben is one of the good guys. If he doesn't want to share anything with anyone, it shouldn't change the eyes through which he's viewed by society.
Besides, it's none of our business.
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