Ben Affleck tried to hide a slave-owning ancestor on Find Your Roots

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Ben Affleck has gotten in a bit of a pickle regarding slavery–but it’s not for the reasons you might expect. B-Aff was recently featured on the hit PBS show Find Your Roots. The show explores the genealogy of a wide variety of folk, from commoners to superstars, and presents its findings for the world to see and discuss.

The problem Benny had was that the show’s producers discovered something of a secret in his family’s distant past–namely, that the Afflecks used to own slaves. This is not really an issue for Ben Affleck, 2015 incarnation. After all, he doesn’t own slaves. (That we know of.)

Nonetheless, Affleck asked that the producers of the show not disclose this particular part of his family’s past. And then WikiLeaks got hold of the e-mail exchange between Affleck and the producers, and gleefully published them on the internet. Which has much better ratings than Find Your Roots.

Noted scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr., the host of the show, mentioned that other celebrities–including documentarian Ken Burns and CNN anchor Anderson Cooper–also had slaveowners in their families. Gates also pointed out that, given America’s long and tortured racial history, it’s not uncommon to find slaveowners among folks’ ancestors.

Gates’ actual request to Sony chairman Michael Lynton went like this:


One of our guests has asked us to edit out something about one of his ancestors–the fact that he owned slaves. Four or five of our guests this season descend from slave owners….We’ve never had anyone ever try to censor or edit what we found. He’s a megastar. What do we do?


Lyndon responded that “I would take it out if no one knows, but if it gets out that you are editing the material based on this kind of sensitivity then it gets tricky. Again, all things being equal I would definitely take it out.”

Affleck is never mentioned by name in the e-mails–but, in addition to “megastar,” he is referred to as “Batman.” And Christian Bale’s family is Welsh as a herd of ragged sheep.

Predictably, B-Aff has received a fair amount of social media ridicule for his request, with most onlookers pointing out that he can’t be held responsible for things his family did over a century before he was born.

What do you think? Did Ben blow this one? What would you do, if you were in Batman’s shoes?


(Photo credits: WENN)

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