Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Hollywood Babble On & On #1260: Why The Oscars Are So White...

With the Oscar nominations out comes the traditional complaining about how weirdly unfair the nominations seem to be.

For the second year in a row all of the acting nominees are white, marking the return of the #OscarSoWhite and #OscarsSoWhite hashtags on twitter as well as threats of boycotts from several prominent black entertainers.
They do have a case. Several African American actors like Michael B. Jordan, and Samuel L. Jackson, and the cast of Straight Outta Compton have put out performances that critics and audiences have considered Oscar worthy. Also the African American directors F. Gary Gray and Ryan Coogler were snubbed even though their films, Straight Outta Compton and Creed, had excellent box office, reviews, and Oscar buzz.
So, why all the snubbing?
Do the Academy members meet around a big table and declare a moratorium on African Americans getting nominations?
Are the individual Academy members so riddled with hate for non-white people they can't bring themselves to nominate African-Americans?
The answer to both questions is: No.
The cause isn't hatred.
The cause is blindness.
You see the Academy members are predominantly older (average age 67), predominantly white, and predominantly politically liberal. 
They are the generation that came of age in the 1950s and 1960s and they see literally EVERYTHING through that lens.
Which brings us to the reasons why Creed and Straight Outta Compton were mostly snubbed: They didn't look like "black films" to the Academy voters.
For someone in the very rarified demographic of an Academy Voter Straight Outta Compton and Creed look radically different from the way everyone else saw them. To an Academy Voter Straight Outta Compton was just a showbiz biopic about a kind of music they don't like, but don't dare admit to not liking, for fear someone will call them racist. 

They also saw Creed as just a sports movie and a comeback vehicle for a previous nominee who has been below their precious radar since the first time he played his signature character.
No one in Compton or Creed are brutalized slaves in the pre-Civil War South, or led Civil Rights marches in the 1960s, or ended up on death row because of a racist justice system manned by white men with heavy southern accents. If they were, then they'd all be up for Oscars, because to Academy voters those are Oscar worthy African-American movies. Instead, the movies featured African-Americans using talent and hard work to succeed in America, and, to various degrees, doing just that.
No martyrs, no Oscar nominations because the Academy just cannot accept them as telling a "sincere" or "real" African-American story, because they lay outside their narrow field of vision.
There is a way to use the Academy's narrow vision to get nominations and awards.
Bryan Cranston was nominated for playing blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo in Trumbo, a film whose sole purpose was to get Cranston an Oscar nomination and to do that, it followed a carefully structured formula. 
It was a story about Hollywood, and Academy voters love navel gazing.
It has a martyr, Dalton Trumbo, albeit a Hollywood kind of martyr, who was blacklisted for his politics. For those who don't know, blacklisting meant that he was forced to write screenplays for less money under pseudonyms.
It has a politically acceptable villain, chiefly right-wing American politicians who didn't care for Trumbo's love of the Stalin regime.
It's a perfect white man's Oscar bait film, and it could be performed entirely in gibberish with falsetto voices by a cast wearing clown make-up, it would still get at least one nomination.
Now you're probably sitting in front of your computer or tablet, furrowing your brow and thinking "What about Will Smith in Concussion?"
If the Academy thinks like me, they probably looked at the trailer for Concussion and thought: "Denzel Washington or Idris Elba would have knocked that out of the park. Will Smith just seems too fluffy, to 'movie star' to pull it off." Then they'd see what else was on.

Those are my theories, what are yours?

Friday, 15 January 2016

Hollywood Babble On & On #1259: It's Oscar Time...

Here's the list of Oscar nominations with my commentary possibly coming later...

Best Picture

“The Big Short” 

“Bridge of Spies” 

“Brooklyn” 

“Mad Max: Fury Road”

“The Martian” 

“The Revenant”

“Room”

“Spotlight”

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Cate Blanchett, “Carol”

Brie Larson, “Room”

Jennifer Lawrence, “Joy”

Charlotte Rampling, “45 Years”

Saoirse Ronan, “Brooklyn”

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Bryan Cranston, “Trumbo”

Matt Damon, “The Martian”

Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Revenant”

Michael Fassbender, “Steve Jobs“

Eddie Redmayne, “The Danish Girl”

Actress in a Supporting Role

Jennifer Jason Leigh, “The Hateful Eight”

Rooney Mara, “Carol”

Rachel McAdams, “Spotlight”

Alicia Vikander, “The Danish Girl”

Kate Winslet, “Steve Jobs“

Actor in a Supporting Role

Christian Bale, “The Big Short”

Tom Hardy, “The Revenant”

Mark Ruffalo, “Spotlight”

Mark Rylance, “Bridge of Spies”

Sylvester Stallone, “Creed”

Best Director

Adam McKay, “The Big Short”

George Miller, “Mad Max: Fury Road”

Alejandro G. Inarritu, “The Revenant”

Lenny Abrahamson, “Room”

Tom McCarthy, “Spotlight”

Visual Effects

“Ex Machina”

“Mad Max: Fury Road”

“The Martian”

“The Revenant”

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

Best Documentary Feature

“Amy”

“Cartel Land”

“The Look of Silence”

“What Happened, Miss Simone?”

“Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom”

Best Documentary Short Subject

“Body Team 12”

“Chau, Beyond the Lines”

“Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah”

“A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness”

“Last Day of Freedom”

Editing

“The Big Short”

“Mad Max: Fury Road”

“The Revenant”

“Spotlight”

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

Production Design

“Bridge of Spies”

“The Danish Girl”

“Mad Max: Fury Road”

“The Martian”

“The Revenant”

Best Original Score

“Bridge of Spies”

“Carol”

“The Hateful Eight”

“Sicario”

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

Best Foreign Language Film

“Embrace of the Serpent,” Colombia

“Mustang,” France

“Son of Saul,” Hungary

“Theeb,” Jordan

“A War,” Denmark

Best Original Screenplay

“Bridge of Spies”

“Ex Machina”

“Inside Out”

“Spotlight”

“Straight Outta Compton”

Best Adapted Screenplay

“The Big Short”

“Brooklyn”

“Carol”

“The Martian”

“Room”

Best Original Song

“Earned It” from “Fifty Shades of Grey”

“Manta Ray” from “Racing Extinction”

“Simple Song No. 3” from “Youth”

“Til It Happens To You” from “The Hunting Ground”

“Writing’s on the Wall” from “Spectre”

Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling

“Mad Max: Fury Road”

“The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared”

“The Revenant”

Best Animated Feature

“Anomalisa”

“Boy and the World”

“Inside Out”

“Shaun the Sheep Movie”

“When Marnie Was There”

Best Animated Short Film

“Bear Story”

“Prologue”

“Sanjay’s Super Team”

“We Can’t Live Without Cosmos”

“World of Tomorrow”

Best Live Action Short Film

“Ave Maria”

“Day One”

“Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut)”

“Shok”

“Stutterer”

Best Cinematography

“Carol”

“The Hateful Eight”

“Mad Max: Fury Road”

“The Revenant”

“Sicario”

Achievement in Sound Mixing

“Bridge of Spies”

“Mad Max: Fury Road”

“The Martian”

“The Revenant”

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

Achievement in Sound Editing

“Mad Max: Fury Road”

“The Martian”

“The Revenant”

“Sicario”

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

Best Costume Design

“Carol”

“Cinderella”

“The Danish Girl”

“Mad Max: Fury Road”

“The Revenant”

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Goodbye Major Tom

David Bowie is dead.
Killed by cancer just days after his sixty-ninth birthday and the release of his latest album.
Turning on twitter and seeing reports of his passing was a real kick in the teeth for me. Like millions of others around the world Bowie didn't seem like an ordinary mortal. Death seemed so inconceivable for such an important part of the soundscape of our lives. One could be forgiven for assuming that Bowie would just assume a new persona and genre and go off in some new creative direction. 
Sadly, he was just a human being and death came for him as it will come for us all eventually.
His death stings especially hard because Bowie taught people who were freaks growing up learned that not only were they not alone, there was a way they could be accepted and that's by being as creative and as accepting of others as they can possibly be. To be a Bowie fan was a responsibility. He wasn't everyone's cup of tea, and when I was growing up, a time when the music you listened to established your identity, those who didn't get Bowie liked to express their displeasure with your choices often verbally, and on rare occasions physically.
However, camaraderie could be found with other Bowie people, who would then introduce you to other bands and styles of music, who themselves were influenced by Bowie's work and versatility. Bowie was the gateway drug to alternative rock and alternative pop culture.
I always admired how Bowie managed to remain cool right to the end by avoiding the trap that had ruined so many of his profession. Since he was constantly experimenting and reinventing himself and his music, and wasn't wed to some look from what he considered his gloried past. A habit that transformed too many rock and pop legends into ridiculous or creepy parodies of themselves.
Could you imagine if he had never left his Ziggy Stardust phase?
*shudder*
That constant experimentation and reinvention also meant that if one of his experiments didn't succeed with some segment of the audience, no problem, his next project will be different anyway, and you might like that instead.

Well, we won't be able to take David Bowie for granted anymore.

Friday, 1 January 2016

Hollywood Babble On & On #1258: 2015 - The Year In Stupid

2016 has finally stumbled into our lives like an alcoholic uncle who shows up late for the holidays with a bottle in his hand screaming for everyone to keep the party going even though all are still hungover from the last year.
Anyway, 'tis the season for looking back in list form and I'm not immune for that sort of easy clickbait, so let's look back at the year in stupid.
THAT'S OFFENSIVE: 2015 was the year when EVERYTHING was declared offensive. In fact, I'm pretty sure that someone, somewhere is offended by my mentioning people finding things offensive.
It was also the year that a select few saw that no matter what they try, popular culture will always be in the wrong to the new class of professionally offended people who write thinkpieces for websites.
Let's use sexism as an example.
Hollywood does have a sexism problem. They don't know what to do with female stars and female audiences like they did in the allegedly more sexist Golden Age, when both female stars and audiences were much bigger box-office players. However, modern Hollywood sexism is trapped in a never ending circle of offense. Even when they try to appease or even please their critics they still get crapped on.
Critics complain that there are not enough stories being made about the accomplishments of historic women. Hollywood responds with SUFFRAGETTE a lavish period drama about the fight of women to get the vote. SUFFRAGETTE is almost immediately condemned that the suffragette movement was too white and middle class to matter to modern audiences. (Ironically, a complaint made about the real suffragette movement at the time)
Critics complain that there are not enough competent female heroes on the screen, so they give them Rey in STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS who is tough, competent, and capable of tackling any problem. Many of the same critics then condemn the film and the character as a "Mary Sue" a female character who is "too perfect" to be believed.
There is literally just no pleasing some folks. 
The greatest irony is that when there is something that just reeks of sexism, it's treated as a victory. I'm talking about the all-women reboot of GHOSTBUSTERS. Hollywood is literally tossing women the scraps of a franchise that's been dead for over 25 years, instead of creating something new and original, and it's seen as a victory for feminism.
To borrow a phrase from Admiral Ackbar: "IT'S A TRAP!"
If the film succeeds, the credit will go to the affection people have for the GHOSTBUSTERS franchise.
If the film flops, the blame will be put on its female stars. 
Yet I appear to be the only person who sees this.
Ironically, I'm not offended by it, just saddened.
GEORGE LUCAS: Lucas called Disney "white slavers" after they dropped $4 billion on his lap for Lucasfilm because they revived the long moribund and once creatively bankrupt STAR WARS franchise sans Lucas and his whims like Jar-Jar Binks.
George, I love ya for creating STAR WARS, but you're driving me crazy with this sort of spoiled brat chatter. It was nice that you apologized, but maybe you shouldn't have said it in the first place, right when people were about to forgive you for the prequels? 
SLOW WEST: My problem is not with the movie itself. It apparently got lots of good reviews. My problem is with the title.
It's hard to sell a Western, but calling a Western SLOW WEST is about as smart as naming a play THEATRE CLOSED FOR RENOVATIONS. 
It's going to turn audiences away.
What producer or distributor allowed themselves to be convinced that it was a good title for a Western?
It makes the film sound pretentious, annoying, and, most of all SLOW, and audiences hate slow and will avoid anything that literally promises slowness in the title and makes the film lucky to pull in the $200,000 it did at the box-office.
Not seeing that means those who green-lit that title should probably reconsider their career choices.
MARTIN SHKRELI: Now this isn't an entertainment or pop culture story, but it does have some lessons people in any business can learn.
In case you're living in a cave Martin Shkreli is a millennial multimillionaire who took over a drug company and immediately jacked up the price of a drug for people with compromised immune systems by about 7,000%. He claimed he was going to kick the profits back into research and development, but his lifestyle, business record, and overall attitude about everything made everyone doubt his word.
In fact, when he was arrested and arraigned on running a high financed Ponzi scheme the internet pretty well cheered in unison.
Which brings me to the lesson.
A little known fact about business life is that no matter how honest an American businessperson strives to be, they commit on average several felonies a day without even knowing it. This number goes up exponentially the higher up you go in the financial food chain.
The majority of these felonies are violations of obscure Federal regulations that even the regulators don't fully understand. 
That creates an interesting situation.
First, there are laws that everyone breaks, but since they're so complicated and obscure they're selectively prosecuted.
Second, if you want to be prosecuted for something, be a business person that makes himself a politically attractive target.
Which means that Shrkreli was nowhere near as smart as his ego told him was, or he would have seen that coming. If Conrad Black could be convicted of a crime that never happened, then any businessperson can become a pelt on a prosecutor's wall, so be honest, be straight, and for the love of Xenu, don't make yourself a target.

There's been a lot more stupidity this year, but I've decided to just let it go, and pray that 2016 will be a lot smarter.

Monday, 30 November 2015

BOOK REPORT: TINSELTOWN

TINSELTOWN: MURDER, MORPHINE, & MADNESS AT THE DAWN OF HOLLYWOOD by William J. Mann, Harper Books, $16.99 US / $21 CAN


I don't normally do book reviews since I mostly write about the movie business, but there are these things called books, and some of them are about the movie business.
One such book is Tinseltown by William J. Mann which won the Edgar Award for Best True Crime book of 2014. It's a book that shows how intertwined the worlds of celebrity, business, and scandal really were, and how it goes all the way back to the very beginnings of the modern film industry that we know today.
Now the main crux of the book is a story of murder and scandal, but it goes quite a bit deeper than that, and presents a wider picture of a fledgling industry under siege. The best way to blurb it is to tell you a little bit about the main characters.
WILLIAM DESMOND TAYLOR: He was one of the most commercially successful and prestigious film directors for the Famous Players-Lasky Company (later Paramount Pictures). He was a man with a reputation for being a man of excellent character and probity, but he had secrets that he desperately wanted kept, and it's his unsolved murder in 1922 that forms the central crux of the book.
MABEL NORMAND: Was Taylor's best friend and confidante. She was also one of the biggest comedy stars in Hollywood, and was desperately trying to put a past of bad relationships and cocaine abuse behind her. However, the trial of her former co-star Fatty Arbuckle on bogus rape and murder charges, and the murder of her best friend threatened to destroy her career and her life.
MARY MILES MINTER: A Famous Players child star growing up into an ingenue desperately trying to get out from under the control of her domineering mother Charlotte Shelby. She's romantically obsessed with Taylor, to the point of practically stalking a man she could never have.
MARGARET "GIBBY" GIBSON: A former co-star of Taylor's from his acting days who came close to big-time Hollywood stardom, only to have her shot ruined by her fondness for scuzzy men and easy money. She will do anything to get another shot at stardom, and isn't one to let the law or morality get in her way.
ADOLPH ZUKOR: Started life as a penniless orphan from Hungary, and rose to become the head of Famous Players-Lasky, which at the time was the biggest, most prestigious, and most powerful movie producer-distributor-exhibitor in America, and by extension the world. He's also a man under siege, who is desperate to hold onto the company and life he literally built from nothing.
WILL H. HAYS: A former postmaster-general and campaign manager for the Harding administration. He's hired to lead the organization that will become the modern MPAA, and his mission is to save Hollywood from threats both within and without, and boy-oh-boy were there threats.
A series of scandals had rocked Hollywood, involving sex, drug addiction, and even death. This sparked a movement to regulate, censor, or even shut down Hollywood that became downright hysterical when Fatty Arbuckle was unjustly tried for a murder that never happened. It got even worse when Taylor was gunned down in his apartment and the police investigation, hindered by interference by both the studio, and the press who had just realized that Hollywood scandal sold newspapers like nothing before. That takes the book on three tracks. There's the investigation into the murder itself, the effects it was having on three women in Taylor's life Mabel, Mary & Margaret, and the effect on the industry as a whole, as witnessed by Will Hays and Adolph Zukor.
One thing I found surprising was the amount of sympathy I felt, not only for the women caught up in the murder and scandal hysteria, but for Hays and Zukor.
Like many I viewed Hays as a censorious prig, and Zukor as a ruthless cold-fish only out for himself, but this book showed me that I was wrong. (Yes, that happens rarely) You see Hays was deep down a true believer in free speech and free markets. He thought that movies should be free to show whatever they wanted, because the audience was free to not pay money to see something they didn't like. However he was all too often forced into playing the censor by outside forces.
Those same forces also drove Zukor to do many of the seemingly ruthless and heartless things. Yes, he's shown doing many things driven by ego, but most of the stuff he does is driven by inadequacy and a fear that he might lose everything he's struggled build.
Zukor's fears were not unfounded. We may look at the threats by the morality campaigners to have the government seize the entire movie industry, and move it to Washington where it would operate under the supervision of the US congress as ridiculous, but you have to remember that it was these exact same campaigners that got the Prohibition of alcohol written into the American constitution. Alcohol had been a part of the culture for millennia before the country had even been founded, and the movie industry had only been around a little more than twenty years at this point. When you look at it from that point of view those threats don't seem all that ridiculous.
But back to the book.
Mann does an excellent job presenting a very careful analysis of the crime, the evidence, and things that the investigators didn't see, and presents a pretty compelling theory as to what might have really happened.
He also presents where our modern obsessions with celebrity, scandal, and power begin, and is written with a fast paced style that manages to elegantly capture the complexities of this time and place
Now the story naturally has cinematic qualities. It has murder, sex, scandal, and the sort of big business shenanigans that audiences eat up these days. But it wouldn't work as a movie.
For this to be properly adapted, it has to be done as a TV series. While a relatively slim volume at a little over 400 pages, the story is just too damn big and broad to do justice to with a 2-3 hour feature film, or even a two or three episode miniseries. You could two  seasons of 10-13 one-hour episodes each, with season one dealing with events leading up to Taylor's murder, and season 2 with the investigation & aftermath, and then you might get the story right.
But back to the book.

I would suggest picking this up if you're into movies, murder, and history. William J. Mann manages to capture not just the story, but the era, and presents it with great energy and style.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

The Book Report: What's In A Head?

The people behind the World Fantasy Awards have lost their head.

Well, technically it's not THEIR head, but they have lost the head of long dead author H.P. Lovecraft, whose bust, designed by cartoonist Gahan Wilson, was used as their trophy for many years.
The reason for dropping the head of Lovecraft was that he was a racist person from a racist time and that sparked the usual online screaming match with terms like "racist," and "social justice warrior," being tossed around like grenades full of manure.

Some are campaigning to replace Lovecraft's head with the head of author Octavia Butler, who was a multi-award winning and groundbreaking fantasy and science-fiction author in her own right.

I disagree.

Now before you type out "you're a racist" in the comments, just let me make my case.

I don't think the award should be a bust of any one particular author.

Being a fantasy award, the temptation is to make it a bust of J.R.R. Tolkien who has been one of the most influential authors, but I disagree with even that.

Why?

Because if you use a human head, the award will end up being about that person, and if the award is about that person it will be about something about that person that offends one group or another.

Let's use Lovecraft as an example.

Yes, he was racist, maybe even more racist than the normal standards of the early 20th century. But even if he spent his short life campaigning for racial equality and love between all people, I still would oppose the use of his visage for the award.

He represented a very narrow sub-genre of fantasy, namely a specific brand of phantasmagoric cosmic-horror that we now know as "Lovecraftian." He doesn't truly represent the breadth and depth of the genre. No one author does.

Not even Octavia Butler, who despite the quality  or variety of her work, only represents a tiny corner of a very big tent, because she is only one author, with one author's interests and abilities. Plus, there will always be a nagging doubt hanging over her metallic head that she was chosen as some sort of token gesture of white-liberal-guilt atonement by those who allowed Lovecraft to linger for so long.

Plus, we don't know what some future biographer is going to discover about her. She might have secretly hunted the homeless for sport, for all we know.

Which brings me to what the trophy should be.

It should not be a person, it should be a symbol.

The fantasy genre is born from tales of adventure from mythology. So I suggest a classic fantasy symbol: the sword in the stone from Arthurian legend.

Now before you yell "you're not being inclusive" or that I'm being "Eurocentric" at your monitor, let me finish explaining my design idea.

Every culture has a sword.


That means that there can be a range of designs for the trophy, which can alternate. A classic European medieval sword one year, a katana the next, a scimitar after that, then maybe a jian sword, or an Ethiopian shotel, or an Indian Tulwar. You can pretty easily make a line of different trophies and rotate them among the various awards categories each year.

And to include the horror genre, maybe have the stone be carved in the shape of a sinister looking skull, marked with nonsensical arcane symbols.

Then you have a trophy that symbolizes the roots of the genre without really leaving anything out, and free from the baggage of any one person from the genre's history.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Hollywood Babble On & On #1257: Diversity…of Family?

Okay, this story begins with a complaint.

People are complaining that there is not enough diversity in Hollywood. One key complaint is that the numbers of directors getting regular work that are not caucasian males do not reflect the demographic realities.

But don't worry. 

Sony Pictures has swept in to save the day with a special "Diversity In TV" program. The mission of this program is to get more women and more "people of colour" into the world of directing television.

Sounds like a noble cause but when you see that the program's first reported recruit is Kate Barker-Froyland, the DAUGHTER OF A SENIOR SONY EXECUTIVE.

I call this Meta-Sexism, being sexist to mock sexism.

Now she is a woman, and she is a director, having made a film called Song One starring Anne Hathaway, which gives me an  excuse to post a click-bait picture of Anne Hathaway.

However, there is a problem with her familial connections. We live in an age where people are demanding that others "check their privilege" in the name of diversity. 

In the diversity fight Hollywood comes across as the pinnacle of hypocrisy. The citizens of their community that I call the Axis of Ego, are always the first to demand diversity in others, but are the worst when it comes to having diversity in their own house.

You will never find a people more ethnically, and ideologically homogenous outside of Hollywood. And it's not just the use of white stars all the time, even in so-called "ethnic" roles. The executive suites bear more resemblance to a trustafarian frat-house at an Ivy League university than the population in general.

This leads to the hiring of even more people that fit that vaguely general mould, and more and more people, feel left out, and not just women and ethnic minorities, but other white males who just don't fit in the club are blocked too. I'm a white male Gen-Xer, according to the activists I should have Hollywood dragging me from my home to write &/or direct big budget projects regardless of my résumé, when in reality Hollywood wouldn't touch me with a ten foot pole because I just wouldn't fit in with them, and never will.

However, this clubbiness when it comes to women and ethnic minorities challenges the liberal bona-fides of the Axis of Ego. That makes them look bad, and 

This leads to hackneyed token gestures, like tossing women and minorities the scraps from the franchise table, and the creation of programs meant to improve diversity, but only make things worse.

Now Sony may have hired her on her non-familial merits, her film Song One might be the most brilliant thing since Citizen Kane, I don't know, it hasn't really been seen by anyone, so I can't judge her as a filmmaker.

What I can talk about are the optics.


The optics are terrible.

"Diversity" is supposed to mean hiring from a pool of diverse genders, ethnicities, backgrounds, and beliefs. You don't say a program is about "diversity" and then hire from a pool even narrower than the usual monolithic upper class white Ivy League pool; the literal gene pool.

It doesn't matter if your hire is more brilliant than Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick combined, if they have the same last name of a senior executive, the first thing people are going to think when they hear the news is not "diversity" it is "nepotism."

It reminds people of the early days of Universal Pictures when the joke around the lot was that owner "Carl Laemmle had a big faemmle." However, most studios weren't as egregious in their nepotism. Sure, many viewed them as family businesses, but folks weren't hired solely on their DNA, that may have landed them a chance, but if they didn't deliver in the hard work department, they were often ushered out of the company and sometimes even out of the family.

Ironically, the Silent Era had a lot more diversity behind the camera than today, especially when it came to gender. There were almost as many female screenwriters, directors, editors, and technicians, as there were male, even in the executive suite at some studios. Ethnic diversity was a exponentially weaker because even the suspicion of there being some colour in a black and white film ran the risk of getting a studio's output banned in some states. (Up until the 1960s America was rife with politically powerful movements seeking to censor films for reasons that would seem comically ridiculous to modern eyes.)

This was because the old school moguls believed in one thing: Making movies that the audience wanted to see. They didn't care about making quotas, they were concerned with putting bums in theatre seats so they could make more money and more movies.

The rise of unions and the introduction of sound led to many women being shut out of the industry's technical fields on the bullshit grounds that they were now "too technical" for their feminine minds.

Then came the corporate era when the studios went from being stand-alone entities run by powerful "moguls" to subsidiaries of larger conglomerates and run by committees of Ivy League number-crunchers.

Which is what brings us to our current situation. They see the general population as a list of targets in a marketing report. That some people in these targets have an interest in making film and television instead of consuming it strikes them as inconceivable, because the making of film and television is their world, which is populated by people more or less like them.

Hollywood does need diversity, however, it will not be achieved easily, and most likely won't be achieved in any way we think it's going to happen.