Matt Damon recently sat down with The Guardian to promote his sci-fi social justice thriller Elysium. The article notes that Damon “has been a passionate public supporter of Barack Obama and is confident that his healthcare reforms will rescue America from the iniquities Elysium dramatises.”
But at the time of the interview, Edward Snowden’s surveillance revelations had just emerged and Damon experienced a bit of cognitive dissonance as he tried to absorb the fact that his beloved liberal president was spying on American citizens and perhaps infringing on civil liberties. ”It just seems to have taken this weird, Orwellian turn. It’s surreal. I don’t know where we are now.” Damon is probably a bit edgy about the NSA sniffing around his phone records.
Trying to reconcile the competing narratives of Obama as hero and villain, Damon offered a possible explanation:
“I think it’s tough for guys who weren’t in the military,” he says. “One, their manhood is kind of challenged on some level, I imagine, and they allow themselves to get bullied. And two, they’re just politically afraid of either looking soft or looking incompetent, so they overcompensate.”
Damon might be onto something with his overcompensation theory. A Cornell researcher actually did find that men overcompensate when their masculinity is threatened. He found that “ if you made men more insecure about their masculinity, they displayed more homophobic attitudes, tended to support the Iraq war more and would be more willing to purchase an SUV over another type of vehicle.” The study also discovered that ”masculinity-threatened men also reported feeling more ashamed, guilty, upset and hostile than did masculinity-confirmed men.”