Last November, Sony Pictures Chair Amy Pascal attended a Hollywood breakfast event featuring President Obama as a keynote speaker.
His speech included lines like: “Believe it or not, entertainment is part of our American diplomacy” and if non-Americans “are watching an old movie – Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, or Will and Grace and Modern Family – they’ve had a front-row seat to our march towards progress. Even if their own nations haven’t made that progress yet.”
I could (and do) take issue with the president’s speechwriter for labeling three out of four of those Hollywood productions as “movies” instead of TV shows; and one, possibly two, out of the four as “old.” And I could (and do) ridicule the idea that non-Americans watch stuff from decades past when they could be watching the violent, oversexed, mind-numbing trash of today.
But the shortcomings of his staff aren’t what I want to focus on right now.
What I want to focus on is how Hollywood likes to think itself this bastion of liberty, empowering the little people to speak their minds and be free and learn the truth about how Republicans are so bad and businesses are so bad and women can have it all if they just lose enough weight and wear the right clothes and layer on that makeup and put out enough.
Except that it’s not nearly so progressive as it likes to claim. Incidentally, that should be right-in-our-faces obvious considering the ratio of white actors to black actors alone. Oh yeah, and that “women can have it all if they just lose enough weight and wear the right clothes and layer on that makeup and put out enough” mantra constantly shoved in our faces: That sexist swill should clue us in too.
But if that isn’t enough, now we have a much more intimate look into how Hollywood really works thanks to that Sony hack, which seems to be one giant “Merry Christmas” to beleaguered conservatives everywhere who have been decrying the entertainment industry for years.
Because before going to that breakfast and listening to Obama – our first black president, remember now – speak, Amy Pascal emailed a friend asking “What should I ask the president at this stupid Jeffrey breakfast?”
And then they preceded to joke back and forth about whether he would like race-heavy movies like Django, 12 years a Slave, The Butler, Think Like a Man, or Ride-Along” since he probably “likes Kevin Hart.”
Now, I know that a lot of white people watched all of those movies. Personally, I even really liked Think Like a Man. But there’s really only one reason to ask if a black man has seen those and only those movies, and that’s racism.
Judging by industry standards and messages, that’s probably a much more prevalent attitude than anyone in Hollywood wants to admit.