Thursday, 5 February 2015

Hollywood Babble On & On #1216: The Great Weinstein Intern Auction

No, Harvey Weinstein is not auctioning off the company interns…at least not yet.

What Harvey Weinstein did was auction off a three month unpaid internship with his company for $25,000 with some of that cash going to the ACLU of Southern California.

Let me sum it up: Someone with a lot of money paid $25,000 so their college age kid can run errands and get yelled at for three months with no salary.

So why did they do it?

Was it for charity?

Probably not.

Was it out of love for Harvey Weinstein?

Definitely not.

What was really up for sale at the auction was a chance to touch the keys to the kingdom of show business. A chance to mount the greasy pole of Hollywood executive advancement in the only way that's possible now.

There are those who are criticizing the auction saying that it favours the rich and connected and hinders diversity in the film business.


Hollywood management is evolving into the sort of snooty hyper-exclusive country club that Hollywood movies would make fun of by having the Marx Brothers or Bill Murray engage in a variety of wacky antics. If you are not born into the narrow socio-economic circle that currently runs the show, you will NEVER enter it because the way there is extremely narrow.

If you want to become an executive in Hollywood there is only one set of steps you need to follow.

STEP 1: Be born into the right family.

This family have to have two things: MONEY and CONNECTIONS. If you don't have one you will not get the other. 

STEP 2: Be accepted into the right schools.

Now you're probably thinking about Ivy League schools like Harvard, and you'll be partially right. Partially because you'll need to attend the right pre-K, the right kindergarten, the right elementary school, the right junior high and the right high school. While at these institutions of learning you must belong to the right clubs and teams with other right people.

Then you get into the right university.

Once there you must join the right clubs, fraternities and/or sororities, so you meet other people from the right circles so you can...

STEP 3: Use the connections you got from being born into the right family and going to the right school to get the right internship.

We're not talking about being a coffee-fetcher on some indie film, we're talking about working in an office surrounded by other people who got where they are the exact same way you are.

This is an unpaid position, which means you will need a substantial allowance from mommy and daddy to not only buy food, clothing, and shelter, but to have the RIGHT food, clothing, and shelter, and show the people you're working for that you don't really need to work for them to survive.

STEP 4: Use family, school, and internship connections to get the right job as an assistant.

As long as you don't screw up totally, you can then have the connections to get a job as an assistant to an executive. While a paying position the pay is deliberately shitty because the last thing they want is someone who actually has to live on an assistant's salary. Those kinds of people don't have the right "look" for the office, and won't be parking the right sort of car in their lot, and need to be kept far-far away.

STEP 5: Don't set yourself or the office building on fire.

Then you're on your way to a nice corner office.

Many complain about the lack of diversity in Hollywood, especially in its executive suites. But they look at solely in terms of skin colour, and skin colour is only looking skin deep at the issue.

Hollywood management has a terrible lack of diversity in literally every facet of society. Some may look at the Golden Age of Hollywood and think that its management was even less diverse than it is now since it was 100% male, 100% caucasian and about 85-90% Jewish. But go beyond the statistics and look at them as individuals they all had different backstories, places of origin, as well as wildly divergent opinions on everything from taste in movies, to politics, to business management, and economics.

As the early moguls built their companies they encountered and did business with wide swathes of American society. When it came to recruiting, they looked for ambition, drive, and brains, money was the bait they used to lure the best talent, and connections were something those new faces had to build on their own, or fail.

This means that the old school moguls and their minions knew more about the wider society they were dealing with, than many of today's modern executives who spend their entire life within an ever-decreasing social circle where everyone agrees with everyone else on everything and can't possibly imagine anyone who thinks, acts, or looks different than them being worth their time.    

Internships for dollars is just a minor symptom, a narrow minded inbred cliquish management culture is the real disease.

And the great irony of all this is that Weinstein was probably the last true outsider to become a major player in modern Hollywood, but now he's just another piece on their chessboard, and it ain't a king or a queen.

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