I was checking out Racialicious and saw this post about a Fade In Magazine article, Minority Report: Liberal Hollywood’s Dirty Little Secret. We all know about so called liberal Hollywood. After reading this article, it all comes to light as to why television and film is pretty much dominated by white males and why quality scripted television shows with a predominantly black cast have pretty much disappeared from network television. People of color are still on television, but we’re pretty much relegated to supporting characters with a few lines thrown in or we’re just there looking like we’re a part of the furniture. And let’s not forget the whitewashing that goes on in film.
Check out some of the comments from folks who work in Hollywood:
Screenwriter “Hollywood’s not liberal. That is such an oxymoron; such a joke. There are so many things… I don’t even know where to begin, because it’s so pinned up, because you have to control it. One of the things that Hollywood, along with society, has successfully done is blame the victim. You’re the victim of racism, but they blame you if you say anything. You will never be able to get behind a computer again in your life.
“Hollywood is anything but liberal. I call them liberal bigots. Hollywood is filled with liberal bigots, and they use the thing of being liberal as a reason for being bigoted, for if they’d listen to themselves talk, and listen to their friends talk, they would find that they tell way too many black jokes, ethnic jokes.”
Screenwriter “I wrote a very celebrated movie. I busted my ass, worked hard. I would meet with the director from nine o’clock in the morning – to talk, not to write – until about twelve or one o’clock in the morning. Now, it took that long, because he was on the phone, all of the time, chitchatting with his friends. It should have been a shorter meeting. Then I would write until two or three o’clock in the morning. I finish the script and do all of this work, and then him and another white guy lie and say they wrote it! And white Hollywood believed them over me. I couldn’t fight it, because if I tried to fight it, if I were to scream racism, I’m done. He did something on the set that pushed me to the point as a man where I could have kicked his ass. Then what would have happened is the owners would have been on me: ‘Violent black writer loses his temper and beats up white director.’ Even though all of Hollywood knows that this guy is a jerk.
“Then I had to go through the whole shame of going to meetings where people were asking me, ‘So did you really write this? Can we see samples of other stuff you did?’ Even though this guy has never written anything that they can point to and go, ‘Oh, well, he’s written this.’ Since then, he hasn’t written anything, but because he was white… He said in the arbitration letter, ‘I didn’t want anybody to know my efforts were being done because I didn’t want to undermine Mr. [name withheld].’ Can you believe that? I literally cried when I read the arbitration letter. So he played the affirmative action card, [claiming] that I was an affirmative action writer. There are whites in this town who still to this day believe that this white man [wrote the script].”
I wonder who this mystery screenwriter is? I would be pissed off if some idiot took credit for my script.
Screenwriter “I went to a meeting at Warner Bros., with a producer and a director and an exec. I’m sitting there, and I’m a black writer going to write about this black guy. I won’t say what he did, because that’d give away who it was. So before the meeting started, the three white guys started telling towelhead jokes: ‘This towelhead this, this towelhead that.’ And I’m sitting there listening to them tell these towelhead jokes. The Warner Bros. exec started it, and then the producer and this director chimed in on it. I couldn’t believe this was taking place. I didn’t say a word; you know I’m not going to say an N-word joke or tell a towelhead joke because I’m next. So I’m listening to this. Then, afterwards, they then start talking about this black project, which I had no interest in pitching, because I thought, ‘You’re some of the most insincere sons of bitches I ever met in my life’ – motherfuckers is the better word. I had another life before I became a writer, and I’d never heard any shit like this before. I probably gave them one of the most insincere pitches I ever gave in my life because I didn’t want to be a part of [anything with] these three assholes. I couldn’t believe they were doing it. It was totally unnecessary.”
Producer “I remember when I produced my very first movie. I was sitting in a room with a very famous director and his development staff. I was the only female in the room, and I kept making suggestions to cut different scenes, [like] one too many funerals. And I was completely ignored. Cut to this very famous director. He would say the same exact thing that I had said, not even a minute after I said it. And everyone at the meeting would be like, ‘Oh, yes. Good idea. That’s what we should do!’ It was like I never said it. I was invisible. I don’t know if that was sexism, but it sure felt like it. My opinion didn’t matter. Why was I talking?
“So there are those instances, and then there are other scenarios where I’ve had many projects, in particular dramas, that either told black history or featured black actors. It’s virtually impossible to get them made unless they’re comedies. So sexism and racism exist, and Hollywood is hypocritical. I don’t know if it will ever change, sadly. How many female directors do you see out there? How many female producers? There’re a few, but not very many. You see what they do to actresses after a certain age, and what they do to any project that stars an actress. Those films are very hard to get made. The only instance where things have changed with respect to black films is if and when they find a way to make money off of them. Then all they want is that particular kind of film.
“A lot of times I don’t think that the upper echelon of Hollywood are leaders but followers, because they always follow what makes money, and that’s due to the corporatization of the business. What makes money is typically these franchises and testosterone-filled movies based on games. Only when they see something profit do they think, ‘Oh, we should make more movies like that.’ So the reality is that people came out for Obama. If they came out for films, good films instead of just shit films, or the films that have the most marketing, then maybe these other films would have a chance. But they don’t. They don’t come out for movies that feature women, they don’t come out and support or champion films that are directed or produced by women. So until such a time that there’s a revolution, like there just was, then I don’t really see it changing.”
Executive “The television industry is much more homogenous than the film industry. And someone needs to talk about it. Look at who’s coming up in the rank and file. There’s no one, when it comes to executives and when it comes to writers. Why’s Shonda Rhimes such a big story? Because she’s one of two thousand writers in the Guild that are working, that are showrunner level. I love the way agents pitch black writers in their cover letters… They’re always ‘urban writers,’ even if they grew up in suburbia. It’s so insulting.”
Director “Nobody has sort of blatantly been racist to me in the room. I’m a big African-American male who’s known to have a volatile sort of disposition, so people don’t really tend to do that shit to me in the room because I’ll punch a motherfucker out. People have said shit to me that I consider racist – not really racist, but you know the way they value the picture… ‘Black films have no foreign value, they’re only good for this amount.’
“You try to get done what you can, but what you sort of have to remember is that even people like Will Smith or Denzel Washington fought tremendously hard to get to where they’re at. You’ve got to remember, there’s only one of them, and there’s millions of us, so they do what they can. Like The Secret Life of Bees. They were instrumentally involved in that picture getting made. But name another movie this year where you have four black women in it. There ain’t even any other pictures made with four black men in it. Well, Miracle at St. Anna. OK? That’s not the way it works. They make whatever becomes hot. The problem is getting someone to take a chance. Back when they did Boyz n the Hood, they kept wanting to make that type of picture. Now that Tyler Perry is doing these other types of pictures that are garnering money, they only make that type of picture. It’s the same as the old sort of argument. Is Hollywood racist? Absolutely. Can I point to any one specific thing? No. It’s societal. It’s so ingrained in the fabric of it that you can’t really put your finger on it. Do they limit the budgets of African-American pictures? Absolutely. You almost start at a disadvantage.”
I was reading this article on the subway last week and all I could do was shake my head in disgust. I feel sorry for women and folks of color who have to put up with this nonsense. And you thought things were bad in the corporate world for regular folks. I remember reading an interview by a black actress a few years ago who stated that Hollywood seems to be the only place where folks who do the hiring when it comes to casting tv shows and movies can actually get away with saying we’re not hiring any blacks, latinos or asians.
Anyway this is just a snippet of the quotes in that article. Check out this link to read the entire article and you might have to buy the magazine to read it in it’s entirety since at the bottom of the article it states that to read more of the article subscribe here. You can buy Fade In Magazine at Barnes & Noble and Borders Bookstore. Look for actor Daniel Craig on the cover of this issue.