Just a couple of days ago, I wrote about the decline of Hollywood and listed off a number of different reasons why I believe the movie industry in this country is in decline. One of the reasons I touched on briefly was the increasing politicization of things in Hollywood.
I didn’t really get into it all that much as I thought it was just one of many factors. But I recently read an incredible article written by Peter Kiefer and Peter Savodnik, published on Bari Weiss’ Substack, that goes in-depth on just how badly the cancer of wokeness has spread throughout Hollywood.
It’s really bad. Terminal, probably.
The authors of the piece get first-hand information from writers and executives and agents in the industry, and the picture they paint of Woke Hollywood is something else. Their accounts make it seem like Hollywood has been conquered by a tyrannical regime of thought police and diversity fanatics.
Let me give you a sampling from the beginning. I want to simply copy and paste the whole article because it’s really good, but it’s also really long. I’ll try to include as many of the best passages as I can here:
Of course, Hollywood, like many industries, does have a clubiness about it. And pretty much everyone on the inside insists it should open up to those who had, for decades, been kept out. But the heavy-handed mandates, the databases, the shifting culture—in which pretty much all white men were assumed to have gotten their jobs because they had the right tennis buddies or ZIP code or skin color—raised the possibility of a new kind of clubiness. When asked whether ARRAY Crew was just replacing one kind of exclusion with another, Tobler sidestepped the question, saying the organization had sought to “amplify underrepresented professionals.”
But the result has not just been a demographic change. It has been an ideological and cultural transformation. We spoke to more than 25 writers, directors, and producers—all of whom identify as liberal, and all of whom described a pervasive fear of running afoul of the new dogma. This was the case not just among the high command at companies like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, but at every level of production.
How to survive the revolution? By becoming its most ardent supporter. “Best way to defend yourself against the woke is to out-woke everyone, including the woke,” one writer said. Suddenly, every conversation with every agent or head of content started with: Is anyone BIPOC [Black, Indigenous or Person Of Color] attached to this?
We the average Americans who don’t work in the movie industry only see the end result: the shows and movies themselves. Observing the end product, we can infer that there has apparently been a concerted push by Hollywood as a whole to get “less white.”
It’s obvious to anyone with a brain.
This article gives us a look at how the sausage is made.
The old-timers accustomed to being on the inside—and the (non-BIPOC) up-and-comers afraid they’d never get there—were one-part confused, one-part angry, and 10,000-parts scared.
“Everyone has gone so underground with their true feelings about things,” said Mike White, the writer and director behind the hit HBO comedy-drama “The White Lotus.” “If you voice things in a certain way it can really have negative repercussions for you, and people can presume that you could be racist, or you could be seen as misogynist.”
Howard Koch, who has been involved in the production of more than 60 movies, including such classics as “Chinatown” and “Marathon Man,” and is the former president of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences, said: “I’m all for LGBT and Native Americans, blacks, females, whatever minorities that have not been served correctly in the making of content, whether it’s television or movies or whatever, but I think it’s gone too far. I know a lot of very talented people that can’t get work because they’re not black, Native American, female or LGBTQ.”
Hollywood is currently in the grips of a mass hysteria.
It is, said Sam Wasson, the author of “The Big Goodbye: Chinatown and the Last Years of Hollywood,” not so different from the McCarthy era, when everyone in Hollywood professed to believe something that they thought everyone outside Hollywood—the country, their audience—believed. “Hollywood was never anti-Communist,” Wasson said. “It just pretended to be. In fact, Hollywood was never anti- or pro- anything. It was show business. There’s no morality here.”
That amorality, coupled with a finely tuned sense of what the audience is hungry for, what’s trending, has left Hollywood more susceptible to the vagaries of the culture war.
“Now, they’ll just say, ‘Sorry, diversity quotas. We’re just not allowed to hire you,’” said a 48-year-old white, male comedy writer who was recently dropped by his agent.
So essentially instead of a great communist purge, it’s a great racial purge happening in Hollywood right now.
One showrunner, afraid to send his emails to us out of fear of them accidentally winding up on the wrong screen, agreed to show us correspondence with agents, writers, and studio chiefs that capture the new thinking at the highest levels of the Hollywood food chain.
Sitting in his office, in a casita behind his house and next to the pool, we scrolled through the emails on his laptop:
“This one a dead end — they are going to limit search to women and bipoc candidates”
“How tied to hiring him are you? There are some internally that don’t like the idea of hiring a white guy. I wish I had a better way to frame it. Hate this shit.”
“Studio now telling us this job must go to a female / bipoc writer. Sorry — it sucks”
When we wrapped up, the showrunner said: “This is all going to end in a giant class-action lawsuit.”
Maybe one day. But not anytime soon.
Of course, the hardcore racists that are now ascendant in the descending Hollywood are not only unapologetic, but bursting with volcanic rage and hatred, barking out screeds at any who dare question the New Rules:
The creatives who embrace this agenda think all of this is laughable, a lie, a rationalization. “HI AGENTS AND MANAGERS of white folks in this industry,” the actor and director Natalie Morales tweeted in November. “For fucks sake, please stop blaming ‘diversity hires’ for why your client isn’t getting a job. It’s either that you’re not working hard enough or that they’re not good enough. Be honest with them. You are harming us.”
Rochée Jeffrey, a black writer on “Grownish,” “Santa Inc.,” and “Woke,” said: “I don’t care if white people aren’t comfortable because black people are uncomfortable all the fucking time. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to bite my tongue so as not to offend white sensibilities, so I don’t give a shit if they’re nervous.”
You are now seeing the end result of the past few decades of public schooling and mainstream media propaganda. Those who have been brainwashed are now taking over society.
The showrunner said that the new politics is making it hard to get work done. He added that Human Resources departments at the studios and streaming services are awash in complaints directed at white, male showrunners just for doing their job. “It’s gotten to the point where I won’t give notes on a script any longer to a woman or person of color.”
If you want to know why Hollywood movies suck nowadays, it’s because these very, very angry people who have taken over have made it impossible to make good movies:
The writers’ room is supposed to be smart, funny, nasty, a little bawdy, the kind of place where people can make jokes and riff and wonder aloud and vomit out ideas that might become an unforgettable scene. Another showrunner in his mid-fifties (white, male, unfortunately) said: “You’re not allowed to pick your staff anymore, and studios won’t let you interview anybody who isn’t a person of color.”
He added that the culture of documenting even the slightest of slights makes him anxious. “I’m sitting in a room trying to run a show with a collection of people I don’t totally trust.”
Does this sound like an environment where creativity can thrive?
Naturally, the racial purge among personnel has had a massive effect on the actual content produced in Hollywood these days:
The politicization of content production, creatives said, was going to be the industry’s death knell. “Especially this past year, ideology has become more important than art,” Quentin Tarantino said in June on Bill Maher’s show. “It’s like ideology trumps art. Ideology trumps individual effort. Ideology trumps good.”
Exhibit A: “Woke.”
The comedy series, which premiered on Hulu in September 2020, should have been the statement on America right now. It’s about a black cartoonist who is awakened to systemic racism after a run-in with the cops.
The show started off on the right foot: the showrunner, Aeysha Carr, and the writers room she oversaw, delivered a strong batch of early scripts, according to several writers on the show.
Then the producers weighed in. “The notes were all so sanctimonious,” one writer said. “It was never supposed to be as serious as it was. We wanted a thought-provoking show that made fun of woke culture and explored notions of what a black artist’s life would be like in San Francisco among white liberals. But we could only punch down at the safest targets”—white men.
You would think that American society in this day and age would be a comedy gold mine. We have a senile President. We have Karens running around and screaming at people to pull their masks up over their noses. We have the Woke left, which at this point is almost beyond parody.
And yet all of it is strictly off limits. You can’t joke about any of it. Which is why comedy is going extinct in Hollywood.
Hollywood couldn’t even make fun of Trump successfully, albeit for a completely different reason. We had the most spoofable and cartoonish President in modern American history, and Hollywood couldn’t even make funny content about him. It was all too angry and serious. It was thinly-veiled rage with a laugh track. Alec Baldwin’s Trump impressions were not funny because it was so clear he was not doing it to make people laugh, but as a way of expressing his own personal hatred of Trump.
There are tons of Trump impressionists on Tik Tok and Instagram who are 100x funnier than anything Hollywood ever made about Trump.
The irony was not lost on anyone: The black writers, starting with Carr, were more willing to take risks and poke fun at antiracist orthodoxy. This led to creative differences, and soon, Carr, a black woman, was out. She was replaced by Zander Lehmann, a white man.
Then, Lehman was out, too—replaced by Jay Dyer, who is black. “Jay was brought on toward the end for optics,” a black writer on the show said. “Any black guy would do. That was the energy I got.” (Carr and Keith Knight, a co-creator of the semi-autobiographical show, declined to comment.)
What’s interesting here with this example is that it shows when push comes to shove, ideology trumps identity in Hollywood. A black woman writer who wasn’t pushing the proper ideology was forced out for a white man who would push the proper ideology. Then that white man was pushed out and replaced by a black guy–for optics.
The article is very long and I recommend simply reading it in full. I can’t quote everything here, although I’d like to.
I’ll finish up with one last quote:
“Maybe it’s 15 percent about the belief that it will bring more people into viewing content, and 85 percent about the fear of being attacked on social media or in places like the Hollywood press or The New York Times,” a writer and producer said. “You’ve got to be insane not to have at the forefront of your mind all of these racial and gender and trans issues when you’re writing something. You have to worry about the impact that everything you do will have on your career. And that has an obvious chilling effect on creativity.”
There was a feeling, among those who didn’t hew to the new orthodoxy, that it was becoming harder not only for certain people to find work but for a certain kind of content—ballsier, more provocative—to get made.
They were scared of what was happening. The fear, one prominent director said in an email, is “the audience stops trusting us. They begin to see us as a community twisting ourselves into a pretzel to make every movie as woke as possible, every relationship mixed racially, every character sexually fluid, and they decide that we are telling stories set in a fantasyland instead of a world they know and live in. If that happens, and they decide to throw themselves instead into video games 24/7, we will lose them.”
It’s going to happen, too. The rabid ideologues cannot stop themselves. Their jobs aren’t threatened. To fire them would be sacrelige.
Hollywood is going to Woke itself to death.
How far off are we from these secret members of the Hollywood Resistance breaking off and forming their own studios and making movies free of the constraints of Woke Hollywood? There’s got to be some rich anti-Wokes out there who will put up money to begin building a New Hollywood somewhere else, right?
Just please, for the love of God, don’t give it explicitly conservative branding. Don’t call it something like Freedom Studios or Patriot Studios. The point should be to start creating good content again, not Republican propaganda. You can and should adhere to a different moral code than Hollywood does, but don’t make it too preachy and political. That’s the reason Hollywood is failing in the first place.
Start with TV shows, which are generally cheaper to make, and then go from there once you get a hit and make a name for yourself. Hell, start with a sitcom–they’re the cheapest of the cheap, right?
I don’t know. My familiarity with the entertainment industry is limited to what I’ve seen in Entourage, so I could be wrong.
But I do know what things that are unsustainable will eventually collapse sooner or later, even if propped up.
Eventually Hollywood will implode.
It’s a matter of supply and demand. If Hollywood gets too woke for the American public, then demand will dry up for Hollywood’s products.
And at that point point there will be a tremendous opportunity for someone–or some group of people–because demand for quality entertainment will never go away.
Demand gets filled one way or another.