Ben Affleck Apologizes for 'Finding Your Roots' Censorship Controversy

by Zach Seemayer 6:01 PM PDT, April 21, 2015
Photo: Getty Images

Ben Affleck found himself at the center of controversy this week when it was discovered that the Batman V Superman star had asked the producers of the PBS celebrity genealogy show Finding Your Roots to exclude the revelation that one of his ancestors owned slaves.

Now, the 42-year-old actor has taken to Facebook to respond to critics, writing a lengthy post explaining and apologizing for his decision.

"I didn't want any television show about my family to include a guy who owned slaves. I was embarrassed," Affleck wrote. "The very thought left a bad taste in my mouth."

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Affleck's request to exclude this particular aspect of his family history became public knowledge when WikiLeaks released all the hacked Sony documents that had been stolen last year. Affleck's correspondence with the show's producers was among the massive number of leaked emails.

Affleck went on to detail the circumstances surrounding the conversation he had with the show's producer and creator Henry Louis Gates Jr.

"I lobbied [Gates] the same way I lobby directors about what takes of mine I think they should use," Affleck explained. "This is the collaborative creative process. [Gates] agreed with me on the slave owner but made other choices I disagreed with."

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Affleck also wanted to remind people that, while excluding his "embarrassing" ancestor might seem to some to be dishonest, Finding Your Roots is ultimately an entertainment program.

"It's important to remember that this isn't a news program," Affleck wrote. "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."

Despite the backlash, Affleck expressed that he was glad the situation had, in some way, contributed to the national discussion of slavery, racism, and the parts of the nation's history that people are still coming to terms with.

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"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," Affleck concluded. "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."

Affleck is one of a number of stars who have had personal emails and information become public due to the infamous Sony hack. In December, one hacked email revealed a list of embarrassing and bizarre celebrity codenames and aliases. Check out the video below for a look at one of the weirder bits of info made public during the scandal.