Message to Hollywood Apologists by James Jaeger
(NOTE: This was originally posted on the misc.writing.screenplays Newsgroup.)
I would like to spend more time discussing screenwriting and production, but it seems that every time I DO post something on these subjects I am spit upon and ridiculed. This kind of treatment isn't very encouraging. Seems like the Hollywood apologists on this NG have simply made up their minds, and there's no changing. Many of you apologists who have been antagonistic to me profess tolerance, but it seems that you only practice conditional tolerance. When someone dissents and speaks critically about the lack of diversity in Hollywood (at the top of the MPAA studio/distributors), all tolerance evaporates. This is full-blown bigotry, and hypocrisy, at the very least.
Secondly, I feel I have been unjustly accused of being anti-Semitic for simply reiterating the premise of John Cones' research: that studios are controlled by mostly LIBERAL, NOT VERY RELIGIOUS WHITE JEWISH MALES OF EUROPEAN HERITAGE. What's wrong with saying this? It's true. It might be a button, but it's true. Making an observation about the managers of a group of public corporations isn't anti-Semitic. Did it ever occur to any of you apologists that I might be a stockholder of some or all of the MPAA companies and I don't like the lack of diversity in the management of MY companies? And as a stockholder, or owner, since when don't I have a right to complain?
If any of you, who are criticizing me, care to observe the demographics of other public corporations in this country and specify THEIR make up, that's fine too. I have no right to attack you as you have attacked me. I wouldn't consider you anti-Christian if you pointed out, for instance, that General Motors was run by mostly CONSERVATIVE, RELIGIOUS WHITE PROTESTANT MALES OF ANGLO-SAXON HERITAGE. What's wrong with saying this? It's true. And if you went further to say that the cars they make at GM suck, that they are way too expensive or that they all look the same -- I might even agree with you. I wouldn't curse you, slander you or wage a black propaganda campaign against you for observing a simple, observable truth. I just don't get your attitude (unless, of course, you're just psycho from being in the movie business too long).
When I first read WHAT'S REALLY GOING ON IN HOLLYWOOD (and other of John Cones' books) I didn't feel it would be any big deal to relate that message to colleagues in Hollywood and on the East Coast. I was completely amazed when a bunch of you, mostly on this NG, came out of the woodwork and started viciously attacking me as some sort of a nazi or anti-Semite. It just blew my mind. And, in fact, when you did this (and those of you know who I am referring to), it actually piqued my curiosity as to what was going on. The ploy of using "anti-Semitism" as a way of deflecting criticism or inquiry into Hollywood, as John Cones relates in his chapter, the "anti-Semitic Sword" (http://www.homevideo.net/FIRM/shields.htm, began to make more sense to me . . . because I could actually see it being demonstrated in hard-reality. The fact is, it's certain people on this very NG, the hard-core apologists, that are actually "creating" anti-Semitism where none existed before. And those of you who are Jewish no less, are setting an even worse example for Jews in general. Just about the only Jew on this NG that I have run across, that I have any respect for, is Robert Morein. The rest of you are disgraceful and deserve to be excommunicated.
So, for the Nth time, here is what my argument comes down to in simple terms:
There are many public and private corporations out there managed and/or owned by many different people. Some of these companies are predominantly managed and/or owned by certain "definable groups," such as Christians, Jews, Muslims or even Scientologists. Other "definable groups" might be males or females; people of different races; and people of different political philosophies. There's nothing wrong any of this, BUT where we have a problem is when:
a) one of these "definable groups" discriminates against people from other "definable groups" by "pushing power" excessively just to members of its own "definable group" to the exclusion of other "definable groups," and;
b) a fixed array of specific "definable groups" forms a "compound definable group" that has even more specificity in its structure than any of the source "definable groups" do alone, and;
c) one of these "compound definable groups" acts as an oligopoly which monopolizes 90% of the major public communication channels of a given country while practicing a) of above in order to gain even more monopoly power to the exclusion of yet more other "definable groups."
In the case of FIRM's focus, the "major public communication channel" is the feature motion picture. The feature motion picture is possibly the most potent communication channel yet devised -- especially when one considers all of its domestic and foreign media and markets (such as homevideo, cable, pay-per-view, second-run cable, free TV, syndication and ancillaries).
So why should one be concerned with the management of a movie studio that is predominantly Jewish, for instance? They shouldn't, given there is diversity (other "definable groups") representing the other demographic elements. But what about the management of a movie studio that is predominantly Christian? Again, they shouldn't, given there is diversity (other "definable groups") representing the other demographic elements here as well. It does not matter what the predominant element ("definable group") of a particular management group is (whether they are Jewish or Christian, Conservative or Liberal, Male or Female). It's the LACK of diversity that's the problem, the fact that all 7 of the major studios have most of the same elements in their top management positions. In other words, EACH ONE of the 7 major studios has a "compound definable group" controlling it, and again these 7 public corporations preempt 90% of the entertainment markets in the United States (if not a similar market share in the foreign territories as well). Thus the lack of diversity in Hollywood is not only pronounced, it is GROSS, and completely unacceptable in a democratic society where the free flow of ideas should be as fundamental as the right to vote.
So my message is this: The lack of diversity at the top of the studios will effect each and every one of you and your (writing, filmmaking) careers. Most of you will work very hard writing screenplays that will never be purchased, let alone made into a picture, because you do not serve the interests of the "compound definable group" running the studios. Therefore, this group (also known as the "control group," "the club" or "traditional management") will not "push power" to you in any meaningful way. My observation, after working in the Hollywood-based motion picture/TV industry since 1977 has been that the group in power only pushes power to a) those of its "own kind" who are mostly already in the control group; b) those whose ideas conform to its basic political agenda, life-style and views; and c) those who can bring a assets into the movie business and be conveniently booted out after they have been sucked dry (this includes acting, writing and directing talent as well as money men and government officials). Occasionally there ARE exceptions -- and these ARE widely promoted so it doesn't look like there is discrimination and gross nepotism, etc., going on -- but make no mistake about it, these ARE just exceptions.
Those of you who are between 20 and 40 will, as the years pass, realize increasingly that what I have said here, and what John Cones has written in his books, are honest personal experiences and valid research, respectively. It won't be pleasant to slowly realize this in 2012 and it will probably be too late by then to do anything about it, because you never started early enough. This is what Hollywood is counting on to happen . . . as it has been happening for nearly a century now.
So I'll tell you what, here's another deal: If each of you on this NG promises to read WHAT'S REALLY GOING ON IN HOLLYWOOD! (http://www.homevideo.net/FIRM/whats.htm) as soon as you conveniently can AND just tuck this information away in your mind as CONDITIONAL information (meaning information you neither AGREE with or DISAGREE with it), I will be satisfied that you a) got the message and b) that I no longer may need to be here. And again, as the years pass, you will be able to observe whether John Cones and I were full of shit or not (and you should email me or post your experiences). You will be able to observe this not only by experiencing your own progress, but by the progress of your best friends and associates. Note which of them get the sales and which do not, who gets to direct and who does not. More importantly note who gets hired to be the new studio production chief and who does not. Ask yourself upon each appointment: is he liberal or conservative? Is the appointment a male or female? Is he Jewish or Muslim? Does he ever attend church? Where are his parents from? Grand parents? Is he White or Black? Is his or her mother, father or uncle already in the Biz? Is he a Democrat or a Republican? Keep tabs through your morning Hollywood Reporter. Each time a new chairman, CEO, president or president of production is appointed to one of the 7 MPAA studio/distributors, run the above list of questions through your mind. Let me know when you see, for instance, that a Muslim has been appointed chairman of the board at Paramount or when a African-American woman has been named president of production Warner Bros., or when a conservative Christian is appointed to the presidency of Disney. Email me. When these types of appointments start happing, the chances for your career will also improve -- that is, unless you just "happen" to be a liberal, not very religious, white, Jewish male of European heritage (unlike any of the people on this NG, I'm sure). Those of you that fit this particular demographic may experience fewer employment opportunities (and that, of course, is the reason for the yappers on this NG). But those of you that are, let's say, conservative, practicing orthodox Jews who just happen to be female with no relatives from Europe, might experience more employment opportunities. That's what diversity brings. And maybe those of you who have written that new, "politically incorrect" screenplay -- where Adolph Hitler is reincarnated as a studio executive and Hollywood flourishes more than ever before -- will make a six figure sale.
Those apologists who criticize and make fun of what I say here, KNOW that what I have been saying is true. They know it's true otherwise they wouldn't get so bent out of shape by my saying it. Further, they know that I know that they know it, and this probably gives them even more bad-hair days. These apologists are not your friends because they are trying to sucker you into a false picture of Hollywood. They are trying to convince you that what I am saying has no merit, that I am just some ranting anti-Semitic, nazi, troll that failed in Hollywood because I have no talent. If this is the case, then what I said above in connection with your career won't come true, and the observations John Cones has made in the book I asked you to read, won't be observable, so you'll have nothing to worry about. . . but dream on.
15 December 2001
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