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Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

Oscars to force diversity for Best Picture consideration

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https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/08/movies/oscars-diversity-rules-best-picture.html

I don't know what it all means. Lots of rules to follow, too much for my ADD brain. I guess that is why people have to hire 'diversity consultants' nowadays. 

I have always said artists need freedom to work and explore.  So I don't like limits placed on artists (unless they are hired for a job) to fit preconceived ideas of what someone else thinks is right from their biased and narrow worldview.

I can't post pictures here (maybe that is a good thing) but here is my reply to the Academy...

https://archive.org/details/virtue-singnaler-comix-dagger-d.-d.-teoli-jr.-a.-c.

 

 

 

Edited by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.
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I guess this means lower budget films will never win best picture again. I understand enforcing diversity on productions which have the resources to accommodate these parameters, however less money means less connections and less freedom.
You can't add another filter of pickiness when you're already struggling to get crews and the right actors together off a couple million.

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I think the very idea of enforcing diversity is highly questionable. The idea of giving chances to specific people sounds nice, but the inevitable consequences involve taking chances away from someone else, someone who has done nothing wrong.

There is no answer to this and I am constantly astonished that nobody sees the danger in taking the position that disadvantaging people based on things they can't help is bad, except...

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Seems like another storm in a teacup to me. Like the hand wringing over the ‘banning’ of Gone With the Wind that turned out to be nothing more than adding an introductory explanation of context. While the idea of quotas or positive discrimination can be problematic, this is not ‘forcing’ anyone to do anything. It’s a stipulation for being eligible for one award in a contest that 99.99% of films will never be remotely likely to get nominated for. It’s a small token gesture to answer the thoroughly valid charges that the Academy overwhelmingly votes for the same demographic (by and large their own demographic) year in year out.

Remember the Oscars So White backlash to consecutive years of all white Best Actor nominations despite acclaimed performances from black actors, or the snubbing of exceptionally talented female directors for Best Director? Well this is the token response. Unless you’re one of the usual suspects vying for Academy recognition (and only for Best Picture), nobody making films will give a toss. I suspect these days a lot of people don’t give a toss about the Oscars anyway. 

If by some remote chance this gesture leads to more films like Get Out or Little Women or Wonder Woman or Black Panther, then great. But let’s not pretend it’s ‘enforcing’ anything. Nobody has to follow those guidelines if they don’t want to. And even if they are followed, the idea that this will take away chances for someone else is a bit like complaining that giving small businesses a tax break will unfairly take money away from Jeff Bezos or the Walmart Waltons. 

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The reaction seems universally bad to this. The thing is, many films still qualify by satisfying only two of those standards. And many will just comply with the two standards with behind the scenes diversity. 

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And this is why we don't like "dislike" buttons. I've absolutely no problem with anyone disagreeing with me, but let's be a bit more articulate than "I don't like what you're saying." If there's a problem with my logic, please, explain what it is.

The only position I'm taking - the only position I need - is that disadvantaging people based on an accident of birth, whether it's an issue of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or anything else - is wrong. I don't think that's very controversial, and think that's quite a hard proposition to argue against, but really, I'd like to hear the arguments if there are any.

Otherwise, it's reasonable to assume that the objection is emotional rather than logical, and to dismiss it out of hand.

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53 minutes ago, Phil Rhodes said:

And this is why we don't like "dislike" buttons. I've absolutely no problem with anyone disagreeing with me, but let's be a bit more articulate than "I don't like what you're saying." If there's a problem with my logic, please, explain what it is.

The only position I'm taking - the only position I need - is that disadvantaging people based on an accident of birth, whether it's an issue of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or anything else - is wrong. I don't think that's very controversial, and think that's quite a hard proposition to argue against, but really, I'd like to hear the arguments if there are any.

Otherwise, it's reasonable to assume that the objection is emotional rather than logical, and to dismiss it out of hand.

It wasn't me sir .. but I guess the argument is .. the bias has to go the opposite way by enforcement .. to get anything to actually change ..  it is of course a double edge sword .. but seen by many as just something that has to be done to get any sort of change happening .. the Oscars is definitely way behind the times .. I means its absolutely mind numbing that Katherine Bigelow is the first women to win best director Oscar in 2010 !!!!  what the flying fcuk !! ..  its going to have to be forced ,that much is obvious .. 

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1 hour ago, Robin R Probyn said:

It wasn't me sir .. but I guess the argument is .. the bias has to go the opposite way by enforcement .. to get anything to actually change ..  it is of course a double edge sword .. but seen by many as just something that has to be done to get any sort of change happening .. the Oscars is definitely way behind the times .. I means its absolutely mind numbing that Katherine Bigelow is the first women to win best director Oscar in 2010 !!!!  what the flying fcuk !! ..  its going to have to be forced ,that much is obvious .. 

And that's a very comforting thought until you realise that it's being used as an excuse by at least one UK film and TV industry organisation to exclude people from events on the basis of protected characteristics. 

What we need is an answer for people ask why they can't attend an event or be eligible win an award because they're not a member of a particular favoured group. There is no such answer and people are entitled to feel unfairly treated.

The whole thing is a very straightforward fallacy of statistical interpretation. Something might be true of members of a group in general, but it might not be true of specific members of that group. The idea that one group in general might be underrepresented in film and TV says absolutely nothing about whether any one particular person deserves a job or not.

Prejudice is wrong, in all cases. If it's not clear why this is a lethally dangerous path, that risks giving ammunition to some really unpleasant people, I don't think I can make it any more obvious.

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As an addendum, since there's been a storm of protest over what Robin has said (once again, disagreement without discourse!) it's worth being clear that he is of course completely right in that it's shocking that only one woman has ever won best director (five have been nominated). It's worth looking into, but it's not a justification for what's being proposed here.

The proper solutions are complicated, difficult, and involve a lot of work, which makes them unpopular, but that's life.

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Perhaps it’s time to retire the ‘downvote’ button since it seems anonymous readers have been abusing it of late. If that means also getting rid of the ‘upvote’ and ‘love’ buttons, I would be ok with that too. We have words, we can talk to each other. 

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1 hour ago, Satsuki Murashige said:

Perhaps it’s time to retire the ‘downvote’ button since it seems anonymous readers have been abusing it of late. If that means also getting rid of the ‘upvote’ and ‘love’ buttons, I would be ok with that too. We have words, we can talk to each other. 

Well past time. They serve no valid purpose that I can see.

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22 hours ago, Phil Rhodes said:

The idea of giving chances to specific people sounds nice, but the inevitable consequences involve taking chances away from someone else, someone who has done nothing wrong.

This is Happing Now. 1 of the Down votes.

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7 hours ago, Phil Rhodes said:

As an addendum, since there's been a storm of protest over what Robin has said (once again, disagreement without discourse!) it's worth being clear that he is of course completely right in that it's shocking that only one woman has ever won best director (five have been nominated). It's worth looking into, but it's not a justification for what's being proposed here.

The proper solutions are complicated, difficult, and involve a lot of work, which makes them unpopular, but that's life.

I’m curious what you think those proper solutions are, if you think even a small incentive to broaden inclusivity like this (that is in no way enforceable) is a bridge too far. 

I can agree that these are difficult things to address, but your position always seems to be that it’s impossible to detect discrimination based on statistics (ie comparing participation rates to population stats), and that even if you do suspect discrimination you can’t determine an end goal in terms of participation rates, so any action to redress it is dangerous.

Under those prescriptions it seems the only course of action is to do nothing at all.

For what it’s worth, I’m hoping these sorts of incentives won’t be required for too much longer anyway.  The simple fact is that in the last few years films with more diversity - in terms of both casts and crew - have generally done better at the box office than ones with less diversity, and get more international screenings. Some of the most popular entries in blockbuster franchises have been helmed by black or female directors (for the first time) and many of the top grossing films of the last 10 years have had a female protagonist (compared to hardly any in the previous decade). Executives notice this kind of thing. But I do think it took some people challenging the norms and being outspoken about entrenched bias to get this far.

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14 hours ago, Phil Rhodes said:

What we need is an answer for people ask why they can't attend an event or be eligible win an award because they're not a member of a particular favoured group. There is no such answer and people are entitled to feel unfairly treated.

Well thats exactly the argument they would give the other way round ..    they are the being kept out , not eligible to win awards ..  the favored group in our industry is overwhelmingly white ,middle class males .. and always has been..  of which Im one too, and its served me very well being one in this business.. Im not saying I totally agree with this forced quote ..I mean what if the film is 90% black cast but every single character is a drug addled sociopath eating white babies .. but I can see the argument of it being the only way to change things .. how else is it going to happen .. ?

 

Oh hang on are you saying the same thing ?

Edited by Robin R Probyn

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2 hours ago, Dom Jaeger said:

I’m curious what you think those proper solutions are

It's not very complicated, at least in concept. I'd suggest two things, for a start.

First, a reasonably comprehensive assessment of why the numbers for certain kinds of people are low. What's crucial here is to determine how much of it is caused by discrimination, and how much is caused by people simply not applying or not being interested. Why they might not be applying is of course an interesting subsidiary question. It would be reasonable, for instance, to suspect that certain people might not be applying for certain roles because they've been told (or, frankly, inculcated in the belief) that they'll face unfair treatment, with no real information available on how true that is.

Second, to delve more deeply into the idea that certain groups of people may not be applying for certain kinds of work on the basis of legitimate biological variances. This mainly applies to gender. We accept that men and women do not have identical psychology; this is used to excuse, for instance, the way women are charged less for car insurance. On that basis it is reasonable to suspect that not every group of people would apply for the same work at the same level. Crucially, this absolutely does not imply that any particular person should be expected to do more or less well in any particular role; that's the issue of applying statistics to the individual, but it should affect the way in which we interpret the statistics. Particularly, this very straightforward contention completely undermines the idea that all roles should be expected to have 50% male-female representation.

Until you have done at least those two things, and probably several others, you don't fully understand the problem you're trying to solve, you won't know whether the measures you're proposing are working, and you won't know when the battle is won. Even if we accept positive discrimination of any sort, we shouldn't do it unless we have very carefully considered all the issues and gathered the best supporting information we can.

Right now, what's happening is that we've not bothered gathering any information at all, because it's a bit too much like hard work, and we're just sort of doing it anyway because it makes us feel good. This is not OK.

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1 hour ago, Phil Rhodes said:

certain groups of people may not be applying

No one applies for anything. All the hiring is personal connections and word of mouth. If producers formalized the hiring process I bet 90% of this issue would go away tomorrow. 

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I think the problem here is that the ideal solution, that of removing all discrimination against any group of people and then allowing the industry to gradually equalize to a natural level as older, white males retire, will take years, maybe even a generation. Naturally, people want a faster solution, and positive discrimination offers just that. Many people in minority groups, having felt discriminated against themselves, are not particularly concerned with whether positive discrimination is unfair. The problem is, as Phil says, policies like this are applied to groups of people, but they affect individuals, people who have personally done nothing wrong. As someone who has been on the receiving end of this more than once, it's hard not to feel bitter, no matter how 'just' it might be. A policy that breeds bitterness and discontent amongst the workforce is not generally considered desirable. Another question is, at what point does this policy stop? Who decides when the industry is 'fair'? As Phil has pointed out, without knowing what a 'natural' state of the industry would reasonably be, how can we determine when we've reached it? I'm not advocating doing nothing,  I'm just saying that you cannot achieve an objective without fully understanding what that objective is.

So we are left with two imperfect solutions, one that is fair, but will take years to achieve results, and one which is unfair, but will yield short term gains. It is inevitably going to be a matter of opinion as to which one is best.

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2 hours ago, Stuart Brereton said:

I think the problem here is that the ideal solution, that of removing all discrimination against any group of people and then allowing the industry to gradually equalize to a natural level as older, white males retire, will take years, maybe even a generation. Naturally, people want a faster solution, and positive discrimination offers just that. Many people in minority groups, having felt discriminated against themselves, are not particularly concerned with whether positive discrimination is unfair. The problem is, as Phil says, policies like this are applied to groups of people, but they affect individuals, people who have personally done nothing wrong. As someone who has been on the receiving end of this more than once, it's hard not to feel bitter, no matter how 'just' it might be. A policy that breeds bitterness and discontent amongst the workforce is not generally considered desirable. Another question is, at what point does this policy stop? Who decides when the industry is 'fair'? As Phil has pointed out, without knowing what a 'natural' state of the industry would reasonably be, how can we determine when we've reached it? I'm not advocating doing nothing,  I'm just saying that you cannot achieve an objective without fully understanding what that objective is.

So we are left with two imperfect solutions, one that is fair, but will take years to achieve results, and one which is unfair, but will yield short term gains. It is inevitably going to be a matter of opinion as to which one is best.

Nail on the head sir .. well put ..   

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I see We’ve reached this point in the conversation:

1. Discrimination is wrong.
2. I Recognize Discrimination. 
3. I know it unfairly effects certain people.

But Let’s Not Make any Changes cause:

1.We Need to Study the Problem. (Cause I need Time To Deny I Recognize Discrimination.)
 

2. They aren’t applying for jobs. (I want to blame the Problem on those effected, to help me with my Denial.)
 

3. It Positive Discrimination (What I mean is, I don’t want the system to change, cause I benefit from the system.)

If you can’t change the world, Change Your Actions! 

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40 minutes ago, Larry Stone said:

I see We’ve reached this point in the conversation:

1. Discrimination is wrong.
2. I Recognize Discrimination. 
3. I know it unfairly effects certain people.

But Let’s Not Make any Changes cause:

1.We Need to Study the Problem. (Cause I need Time To Deny I Recognize Discrimination.)
 

2. They aren’t applying for jobs. (I want to blame the Problem on those effected, to help me with my Denial.)
 

3. It Positive Discrimination (What I mean is, I don’t want the system to change, cause I benefit from the system.)

If you can’t change the world, Change Your Actions! 

I don't agree with any of those things, and neither has anyone in this thread ever advanced any of those ideas.

Meaningful conversation on this subject deserves better than this sort of straw-man speciousness. If you have a point, make it.

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Larry,

Accusing others of holding views that they haven't actually proposed, without offering any solution of your own is rarely helpful in a discussion.

To address your points:

55 minutes ago, Larry Stone said:

1.We Need to Study the Problem. (Cause I need Time To Deny I Recognize Discrimination.)

We do need to study the problem. We need to know what levels of participation we should reasonably expect from minority groups, given a non discriminatory industry. If we don't know that, how will we ever know that the measures are working?

55 minutes ago, Larry Stone said:

2. They aren’t applying for jobs. (I want to blame the Problem on those effected, to help me with my Denial.)

This relates to the previous point. If the levels of participation are not what we would expect, why aren't they? Is there discrimination that we're not seeing? Is there an attitude being indoctrinated into minority groups earlier in education that prevents them from seeing this industry as a viable career? Or do they simply not want to be in this industry in the numbers we imagine?

This last is necessarily a generalization of the industry as a whole rather than specific roles within it. For instance, in my experience, women are very well represented in HMU, Wardrobe, Art, and Production departments, but rather less so in G&E and Transpo. Is this down to discrimination or just natural preference?

55 minutes ago, Larry Stone said:

I 3. It Positive Discrimination (What I mean is, I don’t want the system to change, cause I benefit from the system.)

Positive discrimination, by its very nature, picks winners and losers on the basis of protected characteristics, something which is otherwise illegal. You cannot claim to be against discrimination that keeps you out of an industry, whilst being for discrimination that keeps someone else out out.

It's an extraordinarily complex issue, with no easy answers.

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6 minutes ago, Stuart Brereton said:

We do need to study the problem. We need to know what levels of participation we should reasonably expect from minority groups, given a non discriminatory industry. If we don't know that, how will we ever know that the measures are working?

I don't think that this has not been studied, I'm sure it has. It isn't a new problem. Maybe that's why all these initiatives are happening.

 

7 minutes ago, Stuart Brereton said:

Or do they simply not want to be in this industry in the numbers we imagine?

I really don't think that wanting to be in this industry is related to the color of one's skin.

The problem lies of course within society in general. People discriminate and we all know that most will not change just because someone tells them their behavior is unfair. That's why action is required and hopefully new generations will do better.

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