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Oscars to force diversity for Best Picture consideration

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20 minutes ago, Uli Meyer said:

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

I'm not suggesting for one second that it is. I am saying that we cannot simply assume that all people have equal desires and therefore there must be proportional representation in every department.

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1 hour ago, Uli Meyer said:

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

Studies have been done on this sort of thing, particularly in the context of why children in Asia, particularly east Asia, tend to do better on tests of mathematical ability than children in the west. I'm pretty sure that I once read a study which suggested there actually was a very small biological influence on that sort of cognitive ability in the population in question, but that social pressures were vastly more influential. I can't find that study now, but there are plenty of others, and the overwhelming conclusion is that it's overwhelmingly cultural. That is to say, Chinese kids excel at maths because their parents, schoolteachers and society in general pressures them to do work hard at it, not because they're genetically predisposed to be better at it (or at least not by an amount that matters much).

Things are different if we compare men and women. Men have a better ability than women to mentally solve abstract three-dimensional problems, while women are better at location recall ("where is that object on a map") and that is so consistent among the two populations we're comparing that there is almost certainly a large biological component to it.

This means that, at minimum, we need different interventions, with different criteria for success, for issues of underrepresentation based on gender as opposed to issues of underrepresentation based on ethnicity. That's just one example of why this is not a simple problem.

It is very tempting to reach for a conclusion because it's simple or popular. However, to solve this problem in a way that's fast, effective and fair to everyone, we may need to accept conclusions that are complicated, unpopular, and don't justify much moral outrage. We might need to accept that certain groups appear underrepresented but actually aren't, or at least not as much as it might seem. We might also have to accept that where there is underrepresentation it's because of social, political or cultural pressures which are causing people to self-select out of particular careers, and that the most appropriate solution is to try to change those pressures, not simply to exclude people until an arbitrary level of representation has been reached - because then we won't actually have solved the underlying problem anyway.

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Different cultures find interest in different things. Sometimes (not every time) the culture you're in can be a result of your skin color due to historic (and sometimes current) discrimination.

The reality is: different walks of life want to do what they grew up enthusiastic about. To say most black creatives don't have a desire to make features is completely reasonable, disagreement with that in a way denies the under-representation that's historically existed in cinema. This will all balance itself out if black talents are given budgets to create as opposed to being used in little franchise puppet regimes.

Stop looking at crew demographics and start looking at the producers who are given opportunities, they'll execute ideas their community wants faithfully. All this guesswork of white execs trying to appeal to communities they barely interact with is laughable.

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@Phil Rhodes

Studies have been done on this sort of thing, particularly in the context of why children in Asia, particularly east Asia, tend to do better on tests of mathematical ability than children in the west. I'm pretty sure that I once read a study which suggested there actually was a very small biological influence on that sort of cognitive ability in the population in question, but that social pressures were vastly more influential. I can't find that study now, but there are plenty of others, and the overwhelming conclusion is that it's overwhelmingly cultural. That is to say, Chinese kids excel at maths because their parents, schoolteachers and society in general pressures them to do work hard at it, not because they're genetically predisposed to be better at it (or at least not by an amount that matters much).

I'm just going to say it! This whole paragraph is RACISTS. Please take all the time you need to find that study you read, I like to know what institution, author and science journal published that study. 

Things are different if we compare men and women. Men have a better ability than women to mentally solve abstract three-dimensional problems, while women are better at location recall ("where is that object on a map") and that is so consistent among the two populations we're comparing that there is almost certainly a large biological component to it.

Racisms and Sexism go hand in hand, I'm not at all surprised you made this statement. 

This means that, at minimum, we need different interventions, with different criteria for success, for issues of underrepresentation based on gender as opposed to issues of underrepresentation based on ethnicity. That's just one example of why this is not a simple problem.

This is based on the above Men are Better at problem solving, while women are better at remembering thing, or the Study of Math and East Asian children? 

It is very tempting to reach for a conclusion because it's simple or popular. However, to solve this problem in a way that's fast, effective and fair to everyone, we may need to accept conclusions that are complicated, unpopular, and don't justify much moral outrage. We might need to accept that certain groups appear underrepresented but actually aren't, or at least not as much as it might seem. We might also have to accept that where there is underrepresentation it's because of social, political or cultural pressures which are causing people to self-select out of particular careers, and that the most appropriate solution is to try to change those pressures, not simply to exclude people until an arbitrary level of representation has been reached - because then we won't actually have solved the underlying problem anyway.

You really took the time to type out this RACISTS and SEXIST GARABGE to say to imply "Someone Parents pressured them to study something other then Film" so that why large groups of society are underrepresented in the industry. 

@Stuart Brereton

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.

I'm correcting that now. 

 

To address your points:

  On 9/11/2020 at 9:47 AM, 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?

 

Given a NON DISCRIMINATORY INDUSTRY the participation levels would be equal. So Let's not focus on a magical number, as something we need to work towards. Let's focus on being inclusive, and welcoming to everyone. 

  On 9/11/2020 at 9:47 AM, 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?

allowing the industry to gradually equalize to a natural level as older, white males retire, will take years, maybe even a generation. - stuart brereton

So you do recognize discrimination! Yet you still deny it by say "Is there an attitude being indoctrinated into minority groups earlier in education that prevents them from seeing this industry as a viable career?" I'm going to ask you is there an indoctrination taking place now? Are Racists and Sexist teaching their beliefs to a younger generation, passing them off as the "Old School Way of doing things"?
 

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?

I'm sure discrimination has a lot to do with this. If someone took the time to interview people in these department, we would hear similar stories on how they end up in certain departments, when they wanted to Direct, work the set as DP, Grip, Best Grip Etc. 

 

  On 9/11/2020 at 9:47 AM, 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.

Ava DuVernay had a Production Crew that was over 50% women. 

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/ava-duvernay-gender-parity-women-own_n_5dc1a27de4b0615b8a9a5681

"Be We Tried And Made It So" - Ava DuVernay.

Now you might point to how this as "Positive Discrimination", and I wonder if you ever "Pointed out Discrimination"? It's not complex, you just need to try!

@Frank Hegyi

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. 

Thank You Frank. While I don't believe 90% of the issues will go away. I think those of you in the industry can start recommending people and building a more diverse crew.

 

 

 

 

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25 minutes ago, Larry Stone said:

...

Is this some sort of elaborate troll? This man quite literally doesn't know how to spell "racist."

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1 hour ago, Larry Stone said:

I think those of you in the industry can start recommending people and building a more diverse crew.

You're missing my point. The personal recommendation system IS the problem. You gotta change the structure. Focusing on symptoms like the demographic breakdowns won't get you anywhere.

Here, I'll give you another structural example: PA's get paid straight-up poverty wages. You gotta have some kind of subsidized existence for at least 12 months in order to break into the freelance production world. I wonder why we have demographic issues????

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13 hours ago, Larry Stone said:

Given a NON DISCRIMINATORY INDUSTRY the participation levels would be equal. 

And you know this how? There is no evidence to suggest that all people want the same things equally. It's an idea that's not supported in any other industry.

Here's an observation, based on 25 years working on set. Roughly 90% of the hair, make-up and wardrobe departments are women. Only around 10% are men. Why is that? Are men being discriminated against? Is there a gender barrier to these departments? Or is it that there is another cultural reason for this "under-representation".

Assuming that participation would be equal is just lazy thinking.

 

13 hours ago, Larry Stone said:

So you do recognize discrimination! Yet you still deny it by say "Is there an attitude being indoctrinated into minority groups earlier in education that prevents them from seeing this industry as a viable career?" I'm going to ask you is there an indoctrination taking place now? Are Racists and Sexist teaching their beliefs to a younger generation, passing them off as the "Old School Way of doing things"?

I have never denied that there is discrimination. The sentence you've quoted is quite clearly framed as a question, hence the question mark at the end it. You're again accusing people of saying things they did not say.

13 hours ago, Larry Stone said:

I'm sure discrimination has a lot to do with this. If someone took the time to interview people in these department, we would hear similar stories on how they end up in certain departments, when they wanted to Direct, work the set as DP, Grip, Best Grip Etc. 

You're "sure", are you? How are you sure? Have you studied this? You have an insultingly reductive view of what it means to work in these departments. You don't just fall into the HMU department, you have to train, to study. Likewise with Art. There's not many production designers out there with no art background. In my experience, the crew in these departments are dedicated, trained professionals who love what they do. In all my time on set, I've never once heard a make-up artist say "but what I really wanna do is Key Grip". 

 

Your entire post is a series of unsupported assertions and straw man arguments, with very little in the way of substance. In as much as you have a position at all, it seems to be that discrimination on the basis of race and gender is just fine, as long as it's directed at white men.

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On 9/11/2020 at 1:38 PM, Phil Rhodes said:

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.

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. 

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.

Those are reasonable expectations. I take issue with your view that we haven’t gathered any information on these questions though. In fact, if you have even a cursory look at (for example) gender balance initiatives or government papers on gender balance, you’ll find abundant research into those topics. Accusing every academic, government agency and business leader looking into this subject worldwide of ‘not gathering any information at all, because it’s a bit too much like hard work‘ is an extremely condescending attitude with little resemblance to reality. 

I’m not an academic or in any way involved in these studies but a quick google of gender studies for instance easily brings up papers that list the many reasons women’s participation may be lower in certain fields, including factors like the field may be traditionally male dominated (engineering, trades etc), women make up less than 50% of the working population, family prioritisation and child-rearing etc, etc. In many cases a target of 50% participation is not realistic or suggested. A lot of initiatives recommend setting smaller goals to simply increase participation slightly.  What can sometimes be used as a gauge are things like the percentage of university graduates in a field, which at least narrows down the question of whether a group is interested in something (barriers to university entry notwithstanding). Time and again for women and minorities those numbers dwindle as you move up the leadership ladder. There are more studies that look into why that might be happening too. 

A lot of the time it’s quite obvious when there are certain demographics under-represented in a field. You don’t need to study whether women are not interested in or suited to writing screenplays for instance. You can easily compare statistics from similar jobs in related industries - in the realm of published fiction or creative writing degrees women are very well represented but the numbers for screenwriting are abysmal. In the UK for instance only 16% of screen writers are women, despite writing roughly half the fiction bestsellers. 

The study of whether male and female brains are biologically different is another well covered area, and generally finds that there are far more similarities than differences. If people are genuinely interested there is a mountain of research that debunks a lot of commonly held assumptions.  https://www.nature.com/articles/470332a  Untangling the influences of cultural and societal conditioning from genetics is an ongoing puzzle that many scientists and academics are investigating, but no studies would accept that cinematography for example is such a masculine interest that a 94:6 gender ratio is to be expected.

So there has been plenty of research into all this, from lots of different angles. The question still unanswered by Phil and others who baulk at things like this (pretty mild really) Oscars initiative is, having found obvious instances of disadvantage or under-representation, what measures should we undertake then? Or should we just do nothing and hope things evolve over generations?

It’s a difficult problem, and certainly screaming out accusations of sexism and racism to anyone who is thoughtfully approaching these topics is of no help to anyone. I can understand reservations about setting blanket goals in terms of diversity - demanding that a historical drama uses minority actors when those minorities were not actually present seems pretty silly to me - and I can sympathise with Stuart’s points regarding actions that create bitterness in those who have traditionally benefited from the system, who now feel the sting of discrimination themselves. But I can also see the need to sometimes kick-start change with incentives or protests that shift the status quo. Sometimes all it takes is a small push to get a ball rolling.

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3 hours ago, Dom Jaeger said:

I take issue with your view that we haven’t gathered any information on these questions though. In fact, if you have even a cursory look at (for example) gender balance initiatives or government papers on gender balance, you’ll find abundant research into those topics. Accusing every academic, government agency and business leader looking into this subject worldwide of ‘not gathering any information at all, because it’s a bit too much like hard work‘ is an extremely condescending attitude with little resemblance to reality. 

You're absolutely right in that much of the research has been done, and I've mentioned it in this thread, but it's widely ignored outside academia.

I could name several institutions which are trying to implement 50% gender representation without even the slightest sign of having looked at any of the literature. I'm particularly reminded of a panel (called something like "women in motion graphics") which was presented at a NAB show, I think in 2018, which I attended. With my journalist hat on, I afterward asked all the presenters, individually, what gender balance they expected to see in the field, and all instinctively and without hesitation said 50%. On further questioning, it became clear none of them had looked at any of the research and, what's more, were openly hostile to the idea of doing any reading which might call their existing views into question.

It's very easy to find a lot of other examples with a google search such as "50/50 gender balance." Some of these examples are probably more reasonable than others - it's hard to tell - but practically none of them are supported by any sort of data.

Then we have situations such as this thread in which even the mildest discussion of the received wisdom is met with high-pitched shrieking about racism and sexism when there is none. The only other field in which people are so instinctively and angrily intolerant of debate, in my experience, is religion. Blind faith is not a good basis for major public policy decisions, which is why many countries try to keep religion out of government.

A huge number of bad decisions are absolutely being made based on a lack of regard for the data, and often in a manner that makes me question the proper motives of the people involved.

P

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I think most of us are in agreement that this issue is much more complicated than many people would like to believe, and as such the solutions are likely to be as well. At the very least, there are two facets to the problem. First is the issue of discrimination within the industry, that which happens at the gates, as it were, and stops people from minority groups from entering or progressing through the industry. The second is a kind of societal, cultural conditioning which happens throughout life which might prevent people from these groups even attempting to enter this industry.

As an industry, there's not much we can do about the latter, but we can take steps to address the former. I've stated my reservations about positive discrimination here already, so I won't rehash them, so I'll say that I can accept it as a necessary evil, if we can acknowledge that it is an unfair and imperfect solution, and that it's unlikely to solve the problem by itself. That is going to require a willingness to accept and confront much bigger societal issues.

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11 hours ago, Dom Jaeger said:

Or should we just do nothing and hope things evolve over generations?

I mean... I'm not sure the question is if historic racism will dwindle out after generations of separation from slavery, it absolutely will with time being the ultimate cure for most things. The issue is people with the short end of the stick don't want to be told absolute progress won't happen in their lifetime.

Plantation slavery was going on in America well into the 20th century under the guise of sharecropping or vagrancy laws. It's going to take more than 100 years to fix this massive problem, I don't believe film producers are the ones we should be looking to.. film investors may be another story.

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Social engineering is for chumps. Like communism, it's unnatural and destined to fail.

The mainstream comic book industry is pretty much dead because of progressive ideas. The replacement industry, made up of smaller publishers and independents, is naturally diverse, if that is worth anything. It's made up of both sexes, and of multiple races, worldviews and nationalities. Crucially, these emerging players exist at the mercy of the customer, and so they must create stories and characters that resonate.

Do you want to be hired because you are either female or a cultural minority? Or would you find that demeaning? And as an audience member, do you respect talents regardless of identity, or must the talents have sexual and racial profiles before you respect them?

Anyway. I refuse to believe that Hollywood has any discrimination problems, seeing as most people in the industry are either liberal or progressive. 😗

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29 minutes ago, Karim D. Ghantous said:

I refuse to believe that Hollywood has any discrimination problems, seeing as most people in the industry are either liberal or progressive. 😗

Discrimination is a fact, and the thing about facts is that they are true whether you believe them or not.

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1 hour ago, Karim D. Ghantous said:

Do you want to be hired because you are either female or a cultural minority? Or would you find that demeaning? And as an audience member, do you respect talents regardless of identity, or must the talents have sexual and racial profiles before you respect them?

These are rhetorical questions. I'm sorry but I don't quite get what you are trying to say.

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If you're an outsider, the entertainment business is designed to make you quit.  That applies to everyone.  Also, keep in mind that Hollywood isn't greenlighting anything financially risky.    But they acquire and distribute risky films all the time.

The Oscars,  Sundance, etc.  These are actually reasons for studios to buy certain independent films where there is more diversity in front of and behind the camera.  Moonlight, an Oscar winner of 2017 only pulled in 22million domestically on a 2M budget.  Which for an indie is great. but for a  best picture Oscar winner is pretty low by comparison to other winners. Dallas Buyers Club did $28M domestically on a 5M budget.    Even for the top winning diversity films, they are usually box office bombs but studios buy them anyway for the awards.  

 

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On 9/15/2020 at 9:22 PM, Stuart Brereton said:

Discrimination is a fact, and the thing about facts is that they are true whether you believe them or not.

I was being sarcastic.

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8 minutes ago, Karim D. Ghantous said:

I was being sarcastic.

According to the forum guidelines!!!!!

Quote

Avoid sarcasm. It is nearly impossible to recognize sarcasm in print, and often it is interpreted as rudeness.

I don't actually care I just found it curious that this was in the rules.

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6 hours ago, Karim D. Ghantous said:

I was being sarcastic.

I bet you wish you'd made that obvious. That way you wouldn't have people thinking your post was idiotic.

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