In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sex scandals, numerous Hollywood power players have been taken to task for their deplorable behavior toward women, minors, and others who were in positions that left them vulnerable to being taken advantage of.
Some were complicit in Weinstein's behavior, while others engaged in abuse and harassment of their own that was brought to light thanks to the example set by the disgraced mogul's courageous accusers.
Ben Affleck falls into both categories.
Along with his childhood friend Matt Damon, Affleck rose to prominence with his performance in Goodwill Hunting, a film he also co-wrote with Damon, earning the young collaborators a pair of Best Original Screenplay Oscars.
As with so many other films produced by conglomerate-owned "indie" outlets in the early '90s, Hunting was ushered into existence by Harvey Weinstein.
So like Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith, and many others, Affleck and Damon were faced with some difficult questions following the revelations of Weinstein's rampant abuse.
Primarily, the public wanted to know if these men were aware of Weinstein's behavior and if they took any steps to prevent it.
Before he even had a chance to issue a response, however, Affleck was accused of groping an MTV host and harassing a Canadian entertainment journalist.
The father of three laid low for a few weeks after that, and it's been widely rumored that Affleck checked back into rehab recently.
Of course, Ben long ago made the leap from indie darling to superhero franchise star, which means that when promotional obligations arise, he doesn't have the option of keeping a low profile, even when riding out a scandal.
As such, Affleck stopped by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last night for an interview with a host who's been outspoken in his disgust with the recent round of appalling reports coming out of Hollywood.
"I don't remember it, but I absolutely apologized for it," Affleck responded in response to Colbert's question about allegations that he groped Hilarie Burton back in 2003.
"I certainly don't think she's lying or making it up," he added.
"It's just the kind of thing that we have to as men, I think, as we become more aware of this, be really, really mindful of our behavior and hold ourselves accountable and say, 'If I was ever part of the problem, I want to change. I want to be part of the solution,' and to not shy away from these uncomfortable or awkward or strange encounters that we might've had where we were sort of navigating and not knowing."
It's a bit odd that Affleck suggested there might be any doubt as to whether or not the incident took place, considering it was caught on camera, but ... at least he's trying?
Asked about his ties to Weinstein, Affleck had this to say:
"It was awful to see the extent of these terrible crimes and it was hideous. I haven't worked for Harvey in more than 15 years, but nonetheless, I felt this attachment.
"I did movies like Good Will Hunting, Shakespeare in Love and Chasing Amy - early movies that I really loved doing, when I still was totally brand new.
"And so it sort of rained that a little bit to realize while we were having these experiences and making these movies, there were people who ere suffering and dealing with awful experiences. I didn't really know what to do with that, you know? It's hard to know."
Again, it would have been better if Ben didn't feel the need to preface his remarks with a lame attempt at self-absolution ("Sure Harvey basically kicked off my career, but we haven't worked together ... since I was in my thirties!") but at least he's taking part in this crucial conversation.
The fact is, in the weeks and months that follow, more stars and power players--some of whom may be deeply beloved by large segments of the population--will be implicated in acts of sexual misconduct of varying severity.
For some, there can be no redemption.
Others may find themselves in positions where forgiveness might be possible, but it certainly won't come easy.
Ben's right when he says men in all industries and of all orientations must be more mindful of his behavior.
We just wish his comments didn't come on the heels of a whole lot of back-pedaling and justification.