Tags: ben affleck | pbs | slavery | apology

Ben Affleck Apologizes for PBS Slavery Censorship: 'I Was Embarrassed'

Tuesday, 21 April 2015 08:47 PM

Ben Affleck has responded to recently leaked Sony emails that suggested he wanted to censor a PBS documentary about his ancestors, who were slave owners.

"I felt embarrassed," the actor explained on Facebook. "The very thought left a bad taste in my mouth."

The "Batman" star, who apologized for the emails uncovered by WikiLeaks, admitted that he tried to persuade "Finding Your Roots" executive producer Henry "Skip" Gates Jr. into withholding certain aspects about his family.

PBS has since launched an internal investigation of the matter.

"I lobby directors about what takes of mine I think they should use," he said. "This is the collaborative creative process."

Affleck also pointed out that "Finding Your Roots" is not a news show but a program "where you voluntarily" provide information.

But the actor underlined the positive-that his story would keep the history of slavery in the press.

"We deserve neither credit nor blame for our ancestors," he writes "and the degree of interest in this story suggests that we are, as a nation, still grappling with the terrible legacy of slavery."

Read his full remarks below:

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.


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Ben Affleck has responded to recently leaked Sony emails that suggested he wanted to censor a PBS documentary about his ancestors, who were slave owners. I felt embarrassed, the actor explained on Facebook. The very thought left a bad taste in my mouth. The Batman ...
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2015-47-21
Tuesday, 21 April 2015 08:47 PM
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