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David Poland

By David Poland

Fighting The isms: Episode One

There is a lot of conversation about “isms” these days. Racism, sexism, genderism, RealAmericanism, etc.

And when the discussion happens in media, more often than not, I find myself wanting to yell, “Shut up with this!” But it’s not about the issue. I am willing – even happy – to engage in a serious discussion of any of these issues, and see them as a direct threat to culture and humanity itself in many, many ways.

So people ask, what is my affirmative argument? I believe that I offer affirmative arguments. Often. But it seemed prudent to encapsulate them in one place.


And now, to the first argument…

1. OPEN AND RIGOROUS DISCOURSE – This is challenging, always. I am not in favor of the endless balancing of the “two sides” in every conversation as is so much the rage in the media right now. To start with, I don’t believe there are two sides to most arguments. There are either absolutes – thou shall not kill – or a lot of gray.

On the other hand, we, as individuals, have to be able to be honest about where we really stand. And if we want to have real discourse, we have to be able to accept that other people simply feel differently than we might, and that our job is to bring them around, not beat them until they go silent and become an angry, silenced underground.

Obfuscating the “right” side of an argument to balance out what we see as the “wrong” side of the argument is just as much a failure of real communication.

For instance, if you hold the position that you have a right to own certain assault weapons because you are a citizen of the US protected by the 2nd Amendment, if you are engaging in honest, open discourse, you have to admit that there is a price to others – most likely people you have never met and future victims you will also not know personally – and that you prioritize your presumed rights as more important than the price that is paid.

The problem we face with the NRA (which wields insane power even though fewer than 5% of Americans are members) is that they reject that factual math. They make complicated rhetorical arguments to avoid what is simple. Because if they ever admit the reality, they would be negotiating. And they know – I think correctly – that if they even allow negotiation, they will lose an ever-increasing series of arguments on gun control and end up with significant gun control legislation.

Same with the issue of funding research. Can’t have that. It’s negotiation. Dangerous.

On the other side, there is an argument (however silly it seems to me personally) about individuals perhaps needing to arm themselves as militias in future. If one accepts that there is validity to this idea… okay… it is reasonable that the most serious firearms should be available. What do we do about that? Many would argue that individuals should have not have access to firearms of mass destruction. That may be too dismissive of the sincere argument of many gun owners.

I would be open, for instance, to local secure armories with these weapons, as well as legitimate training on them for those who want to have access in case of the most extreme circumstances. I would reject the argument that individuals need to be able to keep these extreme weapons in their homes because if they are centralized, the bad guys could round them up to easily. This is antiquated – literally – thinking.

The truth is, I think a significant majority of gun owners would be fine with secured local armories and actually happy to be able to train openly and legally with the most extreme of weapons.

One of the great ironies of American gun culture is that in rural areas where guns are part of daily life, there are almost no mass killings. Most mass shootings using military-style weapons are in urban or suburban areas with plenty of policing, and little need for a gun for any use other than human-to-human interactions.

My point is, we need to be honest about defining the boundaries of the argument in a real way on all sides if we seek to support change through discourse.

On the issue of sexism in Hollywood, there are many layers. But there are few industries in which the complexities and over-simplifications of gender are more overt.

This piece began after a conversation about Jen Yamato’s Daily Beast piece about three profiles of women that she felt exposed Hollywood’s sexist male gaze.

Two of the pieces – one written by a gay man of color – were opinion pieces, essentially, and never should have been published in the forms in which they were released. But the third, a Vanity Fair cover story, is a great example of how the conversation becomes layered with so many postures, assumptions, and shortcuts that there is no real conversation.

After mocking VF’s Rich Cohen (fairly I think) for typing with one hand on the keyboard and the other rubbing himself, Yamato extrapolates and loses steam as she offers assumption as fact in building an argument.

He imagines her as a “second-semester freshman” and a “famous woman who does not want to be famous,” variations on the demure siren fantasy.

This is also a straight play against the fact that this interview, cover, photos, etc., were negotiated and organized by personal publicists in coordination with a media outlet that often pretends to be (and occasionally is) independently-minded.

Yes, there is a grotesque, sexist element to the writing. But that is a choice that many signed off on. The troubles on Tarzan were rumored before this interview was conducted. But “The Summer of Margot Robbie” was the headline her people wanted… even though it looks a little silly about now. (I suspect it will look better after Suicide Squad opens.)

(On a personal note, as the one person who does more than 100 on-camera uncut interviews with movie talent every year (including most of the Wolf of Wall Street team, from Scorsese on down), in which the agenda and true personality of the talent tends to come out, I can tell you that Team Robbie has never chosen to put her in front of me for an interview. Not for Oscar season. Not for indies. I hope she is aces… but if she doesn’t want to be “exploited” or narrowcast, send her in with jeans and a t-shirt and as much make-up as she wants or doesn’t want, and we would talk about work for the majority of the conversation, as that is what I am interested in. Her team knows me. This is a choice as well.)

More Yamato: He fails to ask Robbie about her views on her art and craft, the shrewd career strategy that got her here at the age of 26, how selective she had to be to leapfrog her way to stardom…

Putting aside the art & craft issue… the shrewd career strategy thing. She got a role in a Scorsese movie opposite Leo and stole scene after scene, defining herself as the newest, best sex bomb in Hollywood. Was that strategic? She then got a movie opposite Will Smith, one of the other Top 5 movie stars in the world, and held up her end, even in a bomb… but also leaning on her looks. Then she did a supporting role for the same filmmakers, also playing on her looks. Then Tarzan… as Jane. She also cameoed in a bathtub for Adam McKay.

I assume she did Z For Zachariah – a role with dark hair and a brain – after Wolf, but before it blew up. That was a smart strategic choice, to show she was more than a blonde bombshell. And she is exceptional in it. I also think she is great in Focus and in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. She seems to be a very special actress.

But the discussion of strategy would be brief and mostly fruitless. This is not Cameron Diaz or Jessica Lange, who opened huge as bombshells, then went to work learning their craft in smaller, intense roles. The end of this summer will mark less than two years of working in Hollywood since Wolf opened in the fall of 2013 (production wrapped on all of her scheduled films before fall 2015). This doesn’t make her less wonderful… but let’s try to be honest.

Yamato continues: … parlay her career-making Scorsese debut into a string of studio films and a Harley Quinn role already so popular with fans she’s getting her own Suicide Squad spin-off.

She got offers. She took offers. She didn’t make a Jeff Nichols film or a second Craig Zobel movie that actually got a major studio theatrical release… she made a Will Smith movie and Tarzan. (Three of her five most recent credits were at one studio, Warner Bros.)  Could she have made worse choices? Probably. But if Suicide Squad lives up to commercial expectations/hopes, it will be her first movie to do so since Wolf.

Her Harley Quinn is a scene stealer… apparently even a movie stealer. The fans are getting a lot of her in trailers, because WB saw it before the fans had the opportunity to opine. (Another mythology cracked.) But what is that discussion about? Robbie plays a very bad girl who repeatedly uses her sexuality to entice and distract men from the villainy she commits. So does that make Vanity Fair good or bad? Should they have avoided discussing the featured shot in the trailers of her ass sticking out at the audience?

It’s not that Vanity Fair’s piece is anything but gross. But this is chicken and egg, not chicken or egg. Don’t misread me. Margot Robbie could well become a huge movie star on a business level as well as a talent level. Don’t be shocked to see her nipping at Jennifer Lawrence’s increasingly high heels. She, too, could win an Oscar and have a $850 million movie in the same year. I’m rooting for her. But let’s not pretend that she is profoundly transparent and a victim of Vanity Fair’s “put on your bikini” hype machine.

Getting back to the other pieces Yamato references — Owen Gleiberman’s attack on Renée Zellweger’s face in Variety and NYT’s Wesley Morris going on about Blake Lively and Kate Hudson because, apparently, he had nothing better to write about than personal boredom—heavy hangs the Pulitzer—it’s interesting how different readers find these pieces either profoundly upsetting and/or complete non-issues.

It is worth noting that neither piece was a review. (Glenn Kenny did the review of The Shallows for NYT. The new Bridget Jones has not yet been reviewed.) Both were superfluous riffing. And I certainly don’t think it would help anyone to match these rambles with attacks on Russell Crowe’s look in The Nice Guys  or hoping to make a distinction between Hemsworths.

Aggrieved groups are given room. But this is accompanied by a recurring dogma: POC can’t be racist, women can’t be sexist, and if the disempowered actively try to take power from the empowered, arguments against that behavior are frowned upon. But if we want equity, we have to build towards a truly even playing field. That does not, mean that we cannot give significant advantages to those who have been disadvantaged across the years. We should. But we should also be honest, and proud, about those advantages.

We need to believe that if opportunity is offered, accelerated for a while, that the nature of the industry will assimilate new groups into the culture as it has over and over and over again. Assimilation doesn’t happen from behind a closed door. So open the door. Seed the industry. Let nature take its course.

It’s been difficult having conversations about The Academy’s “open the gates” expansion with 683 new members, including many who would not even have been considered under the rules of admission that applied until this year. It isn’t automatically “all good” because it fits one specific agenda. But it’s not inherently bad, either.

My greatest concern here is that it is not transparent. The Academy had the opportunity to truly lead, but chose to perform PR instead, making a big noise with this big number, but only discussing the upside, not the difficulties that will come in implementing these changes. And they are significant. The Academy invited people on the basis of their Sundance entries from only this last January… off of movies that haven’t even opened.

Perhaps the member dump comes as Cheryl Boone Isaacs fears losing the her job as president this summer, wanting to get it all in while she still has the gig. That is my best guess. I’m scared of how they will get the invitation list up to 500 next year.

But, again, aside from the lost opportunity for The Academy teaching the world by saying, “we couldn’t come up with anything near enough new members of color to make a statistical dent inside the Hollywood system,” there are plenty of people celebrating this expansion, some of whom insist that anyone who questions its validity or wisdom is a racist or a sexist. Yes, there are racists and sexists. But I think it is safe to say that, in that majority, that position is a lie that assumes that anyone’s less than strongly positive view of this is simplistic and, at best, mean-spirited.

We need to have honest conversations without accusing the “other side” of absolutes. There is no real conversation when that is the conversation.

More to come.

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24 Responses to “Fighting The isms: Episode One”

  1. Joanie says:

    In the interests of open and rigorous discourse, I’m going to write a lengthy reply to this. You entered into a discussion with me recently on Twitter and though I disagree with you on occasion, it’s to your credit that you welcome the dialogue.

    I thought Jen Yamato’s piece was excellent. When you read the following sentence try to read it through the lens that I do not believe that white straight guys can’t have an opinion about this stuff. But here it is. Women understand sexism in a way that men can’t, just like people of color understand racism in a way that white people can’t. If you truly care about this stuff and about improving the discourse, then I would suggest adding another item to your list.


    The above is not about shutting down debate or shouting you down. However, it’s difficult to understand why you would acknowledge the sexism of the piece about Robbie only to ultimately insinuate that she must like being written about like she’s a bimbo because she won’t sit down for an interview with you. After all you would let her not wear make-up and talk about her craft, and then she could stop inviting this type of sexist commentary. You’re adding to the problem by not listening.

    The subtext of much of what you write about Margot Robbie is that she is a sex bomb, therefore it is dishonest to be affronted when an article about her is all about her looks. Never mind the systemic sexism that treats women like Robbie as though their looks are all they have to offer, which is what much of Yamato’s piece was about. Robbie’s strategy may be obvious to you based on what she’s done, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t warrant any discussion in an interview. Maybe she has thoughts about her choices even if they are no-brainers for you.

    Regarding the affirmative arguments that you list in points ten and eleven, minorities are also very tired of such instruction. We are tired of being told that we should be patient and trust that the powerful will hand out equality because that’s the right thing to do. Any member of a minority can tell you that it doesn’t work that way, and that it is profoundly arrogant to tell them/us that progressivism is the natural way of things when that’s the opposite of our experience.

    You have a voice and you’re choosing to use your voice to critique women like Yamato. Why are you doing that? My theory is that men with progressive views often find it difficult to have these discussions, because they don’t like to be implicated as being complicit in sexism and racism. That goes against their opinions of themselves as good and decent people. In truth it’s not actually about you at all, and perhaps therein lies the problem for you.

    It’s easy for you to tell people to stop shouting at you and be patient because it’s easy for you to play the Mr Level Headed card. You’re not actually affected by any of this, so why would you be anything other than level headed? None of it can ever have the same meaning to you as it does for us, and that’s what allows you to be so calm and condescending in your tone.

  2. David Poland says:

    Hi Joanie –

    I wrote a long response. I will not be publishing it.


    Because no matter how many ways you couch it is “don’t see it as me telling you to shut up,” you are telling me to shut up in more (very creative) ways because of my gender and my race.

    This way lies madness.

    The part you wrote specifically about Margot Robbie so misreads what I wrote about the situation that I should probably address it.

    1. Didn’t suggest in any way that Margot Robbie actually is a bimbo.

    2. Your extrapolations about why I think it is significant that she hasn’t done an interview with me in previous years are fascinating, but misguided.

    3. I never said that a normal person having a negative reacting to the VF article was dishonest. I said that a professional in the world of junkets and interviews pretending that Margot Robbie and her team were not very much in charge of every element of that interview (written by someone who works with Scorsese) is disingenuous.

    4. “ultimately insinuate that she must like being written about like she’s a bimbo because she won’t sit down for an interview with you.” Ultimate bullshit.

    If your world, it seems, only white straight men can own their choices. Everyone else is just a victim floating in a stream beyond their control.

    I see power, abused, misused, mistaken and, sometimes, well and generously used in this business. I am not a novice and I am not an idiot.

    I have watched, literally, thousands of actors and actresses start their careers and rise and fall in this business. There are many, many moving parts. But there tend to be consistencies. And though they sometimes vary, there are a lot of patterns that are shockingly unbroken by all but a few.

    Finally… your choice to focus on the #11 item on my list, which intentionally comes after a lot of hard work that is not remotely dismissive, is sad to me.

    After doing the hard work of items #1 – #10, if you can’t allow for a little patience, you show you are willing to ruin any chance progress with impatience.

    95% of people I know who succeed at anything work their asses off… and are patient when they need to be.

    Name anyone you admire, who you feel has made change… and I am quite sure you will find that they showed patience at some point in the process, which allowed the progress to congeal (to use a food metaphor and avoid the word “settle,” which would surely be misinterpreted).

    The problem for me is that it isn’t about me or taking it personally. It is about trying to support and encourage steps that will lead to real progress, not just stats from before the conversation even starting in earnest and spikes of twitter traffic that always fade a couple days later.

    I have seen a LOT of fake progress. I hate it. I’d much rather see a real inch of territory taken than a foot taken that leads to a foot-and-a-half loss a few weeks later.

    There is no excuse, in my opinion, for the publication of either non-VF story Jen Yamato wrote about. But as you note, there is a big infrastructure supporting these absurd pieces. And those infrastructures are where the power is at. Blow up the Death Star, not a bunch of idiot storm troopers.

    And do everyone a favor and stop measuring the value of ideas based on gender or race. It is an unacceptable measure. Everyone comes to the table with bias. Argue the ideas, not the people spouting them.

  3. AC says:

    “Women understand sexism in a way that men can’t, just like people of color understand racism in a way that white people can’t.”

    It follows, then, that white men understand (what — art, commerce, politics, reality?) in a way that others cannot. Why don’t you include that half of the equation in your specious analysis?

    But if you say things like that, Joanie, and believe them, then you support the notion of an unbridgeable divide between the members of such categories, which is, frankly, absurd, degrading, and even wicked–as an attempt to exercise rhetorical power to demean others and shut down the possibility of real communication.

    If it is not possible to understand, then the reality must inevitably devolve to the exercise of power. Who has it may freely use it, and no one can have any objection to that because there is no alternative. Therefore, your view is no different from what you’re complaining about, and you are part of the problem and ought to be condemned as such.

  4. leahnz says:

    what the actual fuck

    (don’t fret joanie, DP and this rather idiotic spoon AC don’t even realise their replies just prove your point – at once funny and tragic)

  5. Joanie says:

    I know you’re not a novice. I watch (and love) your interviews. But here’s the thing: being an expert about the industry does not necessarily make you an expert about matters of race and gender. You have very well informed opinions, that’s not really at issue here.

    Again, not shouting you down. Straight white men can be a part of the conversation and indeed they need to be for anything to ever change. All most of us ask for is that you do not continually act as though the race and gender of the person speaking don’t matter.

    What offends me is your metaphorical speaking over the top of women and POC on these issues and claiming to know best. Of course we all come to the table with bias, and you come from a place of not experiencing the world like women/minorities do. You don’t acknowledge that.

  6. AC says:

    If leahnz has anything to say, one presumes she’ll say it at some time or other.

    Joanie, what is the problem? If it is impossible for us to understand each other because “categories,” then complaining is just noise. People like to say stuff and hear or read their own voices.

    You do not understand the attempt to move beyond differences and into the essence of being human, regardless of gender or race, and you call it “speaking over the top.” Everybody thinks their differences are so precious, but it’s nonsense. On the one hand you want to be treated as if you are not different, and on the other hand you insist your differences are supremely important. We have to make up our minds about this.

    Here is how human beings are NOT different–they all want stuff. They all have desires, and they all use various means, rhetorical, political, emotional, criminal, etc. to satisfy those desires.

    I will admit there are degrees of righteousness in the objects of desire, but essentially it is all the same. You can remain submerged in the conflictive soup of wanting things and pretending you deserve them all, just like everybody else does. But the only way of actually being any different from all the rest is not to have desires. Otherwise, as noted, it’s all just background noise.

  7. Joanie says:

    Yes AC we’re all just humans, and everybody sees the world that way, and that’s why things like slavery, women earning 77 to a man’s dollar, and brutality against African Americans are all just concepts that don’t affect real people. I guess.

  8. AC says:

    Obviously very few people see the world that way. Even you don’t. Why not? Is it true or not? What’s the point of chewing over the infinite varieties of ignorance and brutality to be found in the world throughout history? Erase your own ignorance. I agree with you to the point that it’s difficult or maybe impossible to erase the ignorance of anyone else.

    I guess I would say that suffering is far more specific than what is experienced by genres of people. It’s profoundly individual. Maybe it’s true that you can’t understand mine and I can’t understand yours. But I’d damn well better understand my own, or I’m screwed without recourse.

  9. David Poland says:

    Of course I acknowledge that, Joanie. We all carry the baggage of who we are and if we are at all self-aware, we are conscious of this in our consideration of pretty much everything.

    Am I an expert in race and gender? No. Not really. Only as much as living has allowed.

    But your assumptions about how my brown-skinned, caucasian, jewish, overweight, straight, married, parenting a 6 year old, living on the west side of LA, show business, X $s of annual income, self-employed, old car-driving, interview-making self is processing the world and the lives of people of other genders and colors are just that… assumptions. Assumptions I don’t want to make about you or anyone else.

    The truth is, it doesn’t matter if you are white, black, straight, gay, rightie or leftie, wealthy or broke as we are having this exchange. All I judge you on – all I choose to judge you on – is what you say/write.

    I think I know best, in my head, about a lot of things. I think I know very little or nothing about a lot of things. I cannot tell you what it’s really like to walk around black or blonde or top tier gorgeous or societal-perceived really ugly. I can’t tell you what it’s like for men to check out my breasts, which seems to be a level one experience for every woman on earth. I don’t know what it is like to have a group of people fashioning my image. I don’t know what it’s like to rely on public transportation in Los Angeles as a working adult.

    I have met wise and stupid people of pretty much every gender and race. I judge the entitled far more harshly than I do anyone who is notably ambitious, much less trying to overcome societal limitations.

    My “tone of superiority” is something I have to live with. It is often not my intention. I am conscious of the perception. When one has something like that thrown in one’s face often enough, one must acknowledge that there is smoke and fire.

    But I am sorry. Being a women or of color (or both) does not make any individual the unimpeachable expert on all issues of race or gender over anyone else. And being a white male, likewise, makes me an expert on nothing, not even privilege.

    You won’t see me commenting on Jen writing about the experience of being an asian woman working in Hollywood nor Wesley being a black gay man who won a Pulitzer in Boston and now gets to work at the NY Times, the most privileged of outlets in the journalism world, topped only as a job by the massive paydays of some television journalists.

    I will never experience the feeling that Ryan Coogler carries in his gut and brought to Fruitvale Station and even Creed. But I did understand the subtext of racism that limited the effort to make his movie bigger at the box office and in award season (though many good people tried very hard as well). I sure as hell understand what going to work for Marvel means.

    Ryan isn’t any less black than he was the day before he got that Marvel job. And I am not any more intimately aware of what coming up black (with a bit of a speech impediment, btw). But I believe my ability to judge the entirety of him making a Marvel movie is not about him being of color or me being white at that juncture.

    I am a major Margot Robbie fan. And I hate that VF profile as much as anyone. But I know why it happened too… male or female… someone asked for it and worked to make it happen, not too different from how it happened. Her image, regardless of who she really is, is being crafted. This is not a new phenomenon. This is not, as far as I can, being forced on her. I don’t know if she secretly wants Marion Cotillard’s career. I don’t know if she wants to be Grace Kelly. Or Jodie Foster.

    None of us really know. Cameron Diaz worked her ass off and did a lot of smaller roles before she got high quality acting gigs. And her last couple of movies were The Other Woman, Sex Tape, and as the shrewish Miss Hannigan in Annie. Is she happy with her career right now? I don’t know. Does she have to take those paydays? Probably not.

    On the other hand, I have a friend (I think she is my friend) who is very successful and has stories about other successful women in Hollywood who are not treated fairly on a financial level. I don’t disbelieve her. But I then consider how that can be fixed. Ad I believe that some answers are magical thinking and some answers can have a real impact. My sense of what might work has noting to do, really, with whether I understand the toll that this takes on these women, whether I can properly empathize. I have accepted the idea that wrong is being done 100%. The next question is, to me, figuring out corrective measures.

    Is that a classically male response? Guilty. But how much do I have to agree with the fault that exists before it is reasonable for me to use the things I do know to seek redress?

  10. David Poland says:

    And Leah… not sure jeering from the sidelines without adding anything is helpful. Or do I just not understand because I am not female?

  11. David Poland says:

    “Yes AC we’re all just humans, and everybody sees the world that way, and that’s why things like slavery, women earning 77 to a man’s dollar, and brutality against African Americans are all just concepts that don’t affect real people. I guess.”

    You throw those out like if one does not agree with your feelings about discourse, one must not believe those things are important. And that is just not true or in many cases, fair.

    How do we move forward?

  12. leahnz says:

    sorry i’m delicate from too much cherry brandy, so sue me

    this concept that the gender and race of the people having ‘discussions’ of sexism and racism should not be a factor is a false narrative to which white men cleave because, as it stands in straight white patriarchy, men are overwhelmingly the gatekeepers in terms of being in a position to have their opinions heard and normalised as ‘universal’, ubiquitous, through sheer numbers and visibility.

    why is it so hard for some men to acknowledge that they do not understand sexism and its overt and insidious effects the way women do, as the systemically disadvantaged group? why is it that so often in discussions of sexism men interject to diminish sexism as a real problem women experience in overt, systemic, insidious and subtle ways on an on-going basis? that men have difficulty acknowledging they benefit from a sexist culture that devalues women and girls in a myriad of ways? that men throw around the ‘victim’ label when women don’t cowtow to their world view?

    one thing is clear: in general straight white men do not like being told to be quiet and listen, that their voices, however ubiquitous, should not be driving the conversation, however much they’d like to believe they are somehow ‘neutral’ observers when even through no effort of their own are anything but.

    the issues of sexism and racism, how they intersect and how to change and transform into a more just society are very complex and certainly need be addressed from every angle, by every group, in every circumstance. men are absolutely essential to ending sexist, racist, bigoted patriarchal culture. but the beneficiaries of straight white male hegemony should not be driving the discussion, and when these voices seek to proclaim they are as knowledgeable and important as those who are devalued in the current hegemony, the entitlement reeks, and serves to highlight how this culture is perpetuated.

  13. AC says:

    As almost anyone with more life experience than an adolescent can tell you, when the so-called disadvantaged, women or POC, somehow achieve positions of power and influence they are, by and large, just as bad or worse than ANYBODY else. They display the same prejudice, blinkered favoritism, entitlement, and amoral selfishness as whoever held those positions yesterday.

    You may think you can pile the blame on “straight, white men” but that is nothing more than a strategy to deflect your own complicity and lack of substance. You have no solution for anything, just an irritated (and irritating) sense of agitation in the absence of any overarching rationality.

    (For whomever fits the shoe.)

  14. Joanie says:

    David thank you for your thoughtful response.

    When I raised those systemic discrimination issues in response to AC, it was not to “throw them out”, it was to show the ridiculousness of ignoring issues of racism and sexism. Racism and sexism underpin some really benign things and some really horrific things, and that was my point. I was being over the top perhaps, but how else can I talk to someone who says “we’re all just human, you minorities just want special treatment”.

    Anyhow, thanks for the discussions. How do we move forward? With a lot of hard work. But let’s be clear, you’re not contributing to moving forward, you’re just criticizing those that are trying.

    Leahnz thank you for outlining this issue better than I can.

  15. Stella's Boy says:

    AC are you saying there is no such thing as white male privilege because every single time a woman or POC gets a high-level position they are just as bad as the white male? What are you basing that on? Personal experience? Something you heard on cable news? That is straight up nonsense. So is calling a female you disagree with “irrational.” That’s some sexist horseshit right there. Your only solution seems to be arguing that everyone is equally terrible therefore no one is really terrible and there is no problem. Must be nice living in that bubble.

    I am part of a department that’s pretty evenly split between males and females, and the women have to deal with things everyday that we do not. Their authority is questioned by males on a regular basis whereas ours is not. They receive criticism and pushback in ways that we do not. Earlier in the year when a handful of women went to department heads (both middle-aged white males) with a complaint about rampant sexism from a male colleague online, they were told that because it happened on social media and not in the workplace, there was nothing they could do. They didn’t take it seriously and didn’t care. They didn’t even sit down and talk with the male colleague who made several females feel threatened and uncomfortable. I don’t think that’s an anomaly. My wife and mother-in-law are executives and if they had a nickel for every time they experienced workplace sexism, they’d both be retired on their own private island.

    How do you solve a problem when you can’t even get the people in power to acknowledge that it exists? Or when people in power who believe it exists still do nothing about it? I only have anecdotes but I know a lot of men who either don’t believe sexism exists or who claim they do but don’t take action when they should.

  16. palmtree says:

    DP, thanks for opening up this forum.

    Any solution to the problem will have to take into account the person’s background. We can’t pretend a man talking about, for example, reproductive rights is the same as a woman talking about it. While it doesn’t necessarily make one argument better than another, but it does make one of the arguments come from the perspective of lived knowledge and practical insight. Solving issues without their voices in the room inevitably will lead to solutions that do not serve them, but serve those in power. It’s a fundamental part of how this works, and acknowledging that shouldn’t take away from the marketplace of ideas. More variety of voices strengthens the marketplace by making sure we have many more ideas (and sources for ideas) to choose from. Learning to better articulate an idea to the people who are affected by that idea will only make that idea better, no?

  17. David Poland says:

    “in general straight white men do not like being told to be quiet and listen”

    Does ANYONE like to be told to be quiet and listen?

  18. David Poland says:

    “the beneficiaries of straight white male hegemony should not be driving the discussion, and when these voices seek to proclaim they are as knowledgeable and important as those who are devalued in the current hegemony, the entitlement reeks, and serves to highlight how this culture is perpetuated.”

    Yeah. I hear that.

    I feel that the assumption that the white male speaker makes that proclamation of being as knowledgeable or as important is not always true.

    Nor do I believe that simply being from a group “devalued in the current hegemony” makes that opinion more knowledgeable or important in all subjects dealing with race or gender.

    But yeah… overall… I hear that… I welcome that…

  19. David Poland says:

    “Anyhow, thanks for the discussions. How do we move forward? With a lot of hard work. But let’s be clear, you’re not contributing to moving forward, you’re just criticizing those that are trying.”

    Was feeling so good before you circled back to tell me to shut up again.

  20. David Poland says:

    I agree with palmtree 100%

  21. Stella's Boy says:

    I could be wrong DP and don’t mean to speak for someone else but I think they were talking to AC.

  22. Joanie says:

    Aw now I feel guilty. But look, I’m really not telling you to shut up. I wish you would approach this differently and with more openness to examining your position, but I’m not telling you to shut up and not speak because you’re a man. That’s unfair. Saying I’m doing that is like saying this whole piece was telling Yamato to shut up, and I’m sure that wasn’t your intention.

  23. Krazy Eyes says:

    I can agree with the criticisms leveled towards Gleiberman’s Zellweger piece and the VF Robbie profile but the Morris Lively/Hudson was a classic. Surely, people can still write bitchy pieces where they take down actors/actresses they don’t care for?

  24. leahnz says:

    i thought this thread might turn into a “faecal jackson pollack” – to quote ryan gosling on graham Norton – so it’s good to see (mostly) thoughtful and insightful comments, i always learn something in these discussions and on the whole it seems like a lot of people ‘get it’ (or are genuinely trying and that’s important, if we stop striving for enlightenment then what’s it all for? i have to hope the people who genuinely try far outnumber those whose hearts are made small and hard by bigotry and ignorance)

    “Leahnz thank you for outlining this issue better than I can.”
    you’re welcome joanie, though i thought you’ve expressed yourself just fine. it’s a messy process because our thoughts tend to refine and reform in the course of these discussions and saying the perfect thing all the time isn’t realistic. i repeat the same stuff here a lot so i feel like an automaton with a repetitive message sometimes.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon