An organization called Time’s Up is demanding that film producers take a pledge. It’s called “The 4% Challenge” and the goal is to increase the number of female directors working in the film industry.
Production companies are being asked to make a pledge to hire a female director in the next 18 months.
My first reaction to this news was that this is going to be really embarrassing.
It’s going to look like a public school gym class where team captains start picking their teammates from the class and the last few to be selected are the poor oafs who everyone knows can’t play well.
Historically, the most socially humiliated were the boys who got picked after the team captains had already started selecting girls.
The girls weren’t embarrassed if they didn’t get picked early, but some were pretty keen to show those stupid boys that they could play.
Yes, I grew up when getting picked for a team was based on merit.
Because of this 4% initiative, there will be a race to pick the best female directors first and, 18 months from now, the women who get hired are basically going to look like the bottom of the barrel. No one wants to look like “last pick.”
In fact, in the world of adults, after the first few months of this campaign it’s probably less humiliating for women to just not accept the job and tell people you were busy developing another project. They should just wait it out until the 18 months are up before they accept another film.
And that’s just one of the problems with “affirmative action” initiatives: it causes people to question whether or not the person hired actually deserved the job.
Meanwhile, moviegoers will feel like they’re being made to eat a vegetable they don’t like.
We saw this happen with the all female installment of Ghostbusters. The public was told that anyone who didn’t like it was misogynist but still it was a box office flop. Despite the intense pressure on the public for people to say they liked the film (even if they didn’t) the latest sequel abandoned ship and will be going back to the Ghostbusters grassroots.
Condemnation from those involved in the failed female version won’t make the last film any better. In the grown up world you can’t just cry to get what you want and still pretend to have any dignity.
The female Ghostbuster film didn’t flop because the actors had no talent. The cast is quite accomplished and all of them have done great work in the past. It failed because the film company tried to send a political message in a way that destroyed the entertainment value of their own franchise.
Star Trek Discovery is fighting a similar battle. The focus on a “social justice” narrative has caused many fans to prefer Seth MacFarlane’s parody version called The Orville. Though critics have insisted that the parody isn’t better, and told the audience that they are wrong, it hasn’t changed the way consumers are spending their time and money.
People may pretend to like something on Twitter but the truth comes out in the box office.
The Hollywood Reporter published a graph on Twitter that attempts to support the Time’s Up “4% challenge” but seems to accomplish the opposite.
The graph compares women employed in specific types of film initiatives to women whose films actually made money in the box office. It rapidly drops off. Comparing higher employment figures to abysmally low profit results indicates that women simply aren’t making movies that audiences want to watch.
But it doesn’t tell us why.
The graph doesn’t explain why audiences still refuse to watch the all female Ghostbusters even though the public was told they were horrible humans if they didn’t like it.
Getting people to “like” and “retweet” some outrage on Twitter isn’t going to sell more movie tickets and it will probably turn the Academy Awards into a farce. In 2020. we may all have to tune in to find out which movie was the least bad out of all the films that nobody really wanted to see.
This is not good for women, at best it’s embarrassing.
Actor Laurence Fox says that “the wokist is a fundamentally racist bunch.” On BBC’s Question Time, he said that the backlash against Meghan Markle was not racist, and called a woman of colour racist for suggesting that his identity means he can’t discern racism.
“The problem we’ve got with this is that Meghan has agreed to be Harry’s wife,” a woman spoke up from the audience, “and the press has torn her to pieces, and let’s be really clear about what this is, let’s call it by its name: it’s racism.”
He decried her view, saying “It’s not racism, we’re the most tolerant lovely country in Europe.”
“Says a white privileged man,” she shot back.
“It’s so easy to throw the charge of racism at everybody,” Fox replied, “and it’s really starting to get boring.”
“What worries me about your comment,” she said, “is you’re a white privileged male.” A round of audience boos rose up.
Fox was clearly annoyed by her comment. “I can’t help what I am, I was born like this,” he said, “it’s an immutable characteristic, so to call me a white privileged male is to be racist. You’re being racist.”
For this, he was skewered in the press and received death threats. Even after “Equity’s minority ethnic members committee… called on fellow actors to ‘unequivocally denounce’ Laurence Fox for comments he made during an appearance on BBC1’s Question Time,” author Shappi Khorsandi spoke against that denunciation.
And Fox wouldn’t back down. Instead, he took to the airwaves with Julia Hartley-Brewer on Talk Radio’s Breakfast Show this morning to expand upon his views.
It was in talking with Hartley-Brewer that he said “I think there’s racism everywhere but I don’t think we’re a systemically racist country. I don’t see a lot of racism, but then I’m a straight white male.” He went on to say that “identity politics is fundamentally racist as well,” because “it’s about silencing opinion,” and “seeing colour everywhere.”
Fox gave voice to what many people have been thinking, that the language of racism and accusations of bias have jumped the shark. Racism had been a charge that could only be levelled by minority racial groups against dominant racial groups. It was a scourge that needed to be rooted out at the highest levels of power to prevent systemic inequity. This project was undertaken by Civil Rights activists, and that work has continued in all of us. As Fox notes, there is still racism.
But the way to fix that racism is not by categorizing everyone into their own little identity boxes and determining what they are allowed to say or think based on the rights and privileges of that identity. The thing to do is to treat everyone like a human being, capable of having their own thoughts and ideas. People must look for the best in one another, not the worst, and not seek out every opportunity to be offended.
Calling someone a privileged white male, said Fox, is a way of “silencing opinion,” saying “you’re not allowed an opinion, mate, you’re white.” Fox has had enough of it, as have so many people.
There are no identity factors that make someone a bad person. Identity factors, such as race, sex, ethnicity, or sexual orientation should not have value judgements associated with them. For one hot minute, we used to know this. The goal was to look at each other and not parse up individuals into their requisite labels, to not use a person’s external characteristics to determine the worth of their ideas or their rights under the law.
That all turned around with concepts like “valuing differences,” wherein we were supposed to look at the ways in which we were different first, dissect and acknowledge those, before seeking for the ways in which we were the same. How much better it is to find kinship with one another first, before sorting all the ways in which we are different.
Fox’s perspective on racism and identity will most likely continue to be discredited because his identity factors are deemed more essential than his actual perspective. His views are taken with large grains of white cis het male privileged salt. But it’s time to start realizing that the brilliant Civil Rights movement, which told us not to judge someone on the basis of their physical characteristics, has been co-opted by haters who would have us do that very same thing. It doesn’t matter who is being boxed by immutable identity factors and judged by them, it matters that it’s being done at all, and it must stop.
Much of the political dysfunction surrounding the social justice movement is the result of passionate campaigners who rightly identify a problem but then swing to the opposite extreme.
This is the case with ultra-feminists who respond to sexism by hating men, as well as anti-racists who attempt to fight the sad and real history of racism by carping on about “microaggressions.” Perhaps most glaringly, the tendency of activists to vacillate between extremes is on display in the “body positivity” movement, which has, in a visceral reaction to the real problem of cruelty toward overweight people, thrown itself headfirst into science-denial and the glorification of unhealthiness.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the “anti-diet” movement rising to prominence in some woke, left-wing circles.
Take, for instance, the “anti-diet” social club glowingly profiled by The Independent, one of the U.K.’s largest liberal-leaning newspapers. The paper reported (quite positively) on the organization and its founding members, in light of the group planning a “festival” to raise awareness against dieting.
The Independent quoted the club’s founder, Becky Young, as saying: “Diets are still out there, our society is inherently fat phobic and we are all suffering because of it. Diet culture tells you that when you achieve your dream of losing weight you’ll be happy and successful. It sells you a false dream.”
Young continued, saying that society is guilty of “stigmatising fat people” and the “fat experience.” Her organization has amassed 75,000 followers and counting on Instagram, where it boasts to be a “Rebel community fighting diet culture” and promoting “Fat/sex/body activism.” The page’s posts show women, some just slightly overweight and others clearly obese, boasting about their unhealthiness and flaunting health norms, such several posts that explicitly encourage people to “lose hate, not weight.”
This is madness.
Of course, these activists are clearly coming from a good place: No one, especially women, should be shamed or insulted for their body and their weight. And, in particular, sometimes certain gimmick “diets” can be unhealthy or even dangerous. But obesity is still unhealthy, and these activists have crossed the line from “body positivity” to promoting unhealthiness and flouting basic health science.
Obesity literally kills millions every year. It is not “badass” or “fierce” to get diabetes or develop heart disease—it’s deadly.
These particular women are British activists, and the obesity problem is not quite as bad (yet!) in the U.K. as in my home country, the United States. But the American experience shows the perils of glorifying, or at least normalizing, obesity. According to the U.S.’s Centers for Disease Control, “Obesity puts individuals at risk for many of the leading causes of death, including heart disease, stroke, some types of cancer, respiratory diseases, diabetes and kidney disease. Obesity costs the U.S. about $147 billion in medical expenses each year.”
So no, being overweight is not “beautiful,” “woke” or “cool.” It’s unhealthy and dangerous. Shaming people for their bodies is wrong, but equally misguided is glorifying a medical condition that’s literally killing people every day.
Of course, some will dismiss these “anti-diet” campaigners as fringe figures, a convenient strawman for those of us who enjoy mocking the excesses of the social justice movement. And it is true that such an embrace of obesity is not exactly a mainstream position, even on the woke left.
But such sentiment is growing. From the internet mob that descended on fitness guru Jillian Michaels for merely declining to glorify pop singer Lizzo’s obesity to the 300-pound “plus-sized” model put on the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine in 2018, our culture is increasingly glorifying obesity.
This anti-science madness is dangerous, and it must be stopped.
Drag Queen Kitty Demure has taken to Twitter to speak out against the sexualization of children by woke people co-opting drag culture and rebranding it as an educational tool.
“I have absolutely no idea why you would want [drag queens] to influence your child. Would you want a stripper or porn star to influence your child?”
Demure notes that just as you wouldn’t take your kids out to see porn stars or strippers read stories while in full dress and makeup, you shouldn’t take them to see drag. There’s an effort to introduce kids earlier and earlier to adult sexuality. The idea is that this will help kids be more open-minded and understanding about the difference. What it really does is normalize deviant adult behaviour in children’s minds and override their own instincts. Giving children access to sexual content makes them think this kind of thing is for them, it opens doors that should stay closed until a child is of age.
Demure says here what all of us know: drag culture is adult entertainment. The look is sexualized. The names are sexualized. In fact, the entire concept of drag is a send-up of beauty queen culture. Beauty queen culture is sexualized as well, and while that is sometimes subsumed beneath the surface, it’s obviously fully part of it. That’s what drag plays on. Drag can be lots of fun, but it’s grown-up fun, not for kids.
Pushing drag on kids, normalizing sexualized behaviour within an educational frame, does a disservice to kids who are initiated too soon into adult sexuality and to queen culture, which is better off not being tagged with tendencies toward pedophilia. Demure rightly points out that gay culture has spent decades trying to convince the public that they are not pedophiles. Having grown men in mini skirts and makeup lounging about with kids doesn’t do much to dispel this image.
Drag Queen Story Hour was founded in San Francisco, and has taken North America by storm. LGBTQ+ activists and children’s librarians tout the events as wholesome affairs where kids can get cozy with cross-dressing adults with provocative names and hear stories about gender non-conformity and sexuality. When conservatives and gender-critical people speak out against the phenomenon, their motivations are called into question. Demure is telling a truth that her community doesn’t want to hear, but she’s not wrong.
The American Library Association supports Drag Queen Story Hour, stating that they have a “commitment to combating marginalization and underrepresentation within the communities served by libraries through increased understanding of the effects of historical exclusion.” But drag queens are not a protected class, they are not marginalized, they are performers plying their trade. Drag queens are not underrepresented and in need of protection by librarians.
They want to reframe drag queens as not only children’s entertainment but a valuable component of their education is a kind of intentional confirmation bias. The logic goes that if conservatives don’t want to expose children to sexualized education and alternative lifestyle acceptability at young ages, then that must be the thing to do.
Children don’t know what’s okay and what’s not until we tell them, they count on the adults in their lives to not put them in harm’s way, physically, intellectually, or emotionally. It’s odd that the same ethos that holds that children don’t have to hug their grandparents would also say that it’s ok to plop them onto a drag queen’s lap at library storytime. Why do children have a right to say no to Granny’s embrace but not to Penny Tration?
The most shocking thing you will find out about Kitty Demure online is not that she reads erotic literature to children in a library, or that she encourages “Desmond is Amazing” to dance for adults, but that she supports the current U.S. president.
She spoke out against drag culture in the #WalkAway project, saying that she’s encountered racism in the community, and as someone with a black husband, this was not okay.
Demure’s mission is to bridge the gap between the gay and the conservative communities. Part of that is to reinforce the idea that drag is for grown-ups. And of course, she’s right. If you want a great drag show, go see one, they can be lots of fun, but please, leave the little tykes at home. Drugs, sex, and lascivious behaviour are all well and good, but they’re just not for kids.
Yet another woke record store has decided to ban British pop icon Morrissey from its shelves. This time, the Glasgow Evening Times reports that Glasgow’s “Monorail Music said it would continue to sell records by the Smiths but ‘like many of our colleagues’ would not be selling the singer’s 13th studio album, ‘I am not a dog on a chain.’”
This follows last year’s indie music store ban on Morrissey’s last album, “California Son.” Cardiff’s Spillers, which calls itself “the oldest record shop in the world,” declined to carry the record in retaliation for Morrissey’s political views. These views include support for Brexit, saying that the word “racist” is meaningless because it’s used so liberally, and that crime in London cannot be properly dealt with if the perpetrators are viewed as victims.
Morrissey responded to the last round of smears and bans by saying, “I straighten up, and my position is one of hope. The march backwards is over, and life has begun again. With voice extended to breaking point, I call for the prosperity of free speech; the eradication of totalitarian control; I call for diversity of opinion; I call for the total abolition of the abattoir; I call for peace, above all; I call for civil society; I call for a so-far unknowable end to brutalities; ‘No’ to Soviet Britain.”
Of course, the bans and smears don’t work. These kinds of actions will not stop Morrissey’s fans from buying the new album. The Guardian has consistently tried to smear Morrissey, and in response, Morrissey wore a t-shirt reading “Fuck The Guardian.” Fans know that Morrissey being able to speak his mind means that they are free to speak theirs, to hold opposing views, and to still listen to the new tracks Morrissey releases with consistent quality year after year.
Bookshops and record stores are not required to carry anything that they don’t wish to, obviously, but there is something sinister in the refusal to carry selections by such a popular, long-standing pop star, whose music on last year’s “California Son” was not political, and who lifts other artists through collaboration, simply because he’s not afraid to speak his mind.
Writer Fiona Dodwell responded to the ridiculous ban by tweeting: “How about businesses stock and store products and let customers choose what they want? This achieves nothing, Morrissey will still sell albums—with or without your company “banning” his records. People simply go elsewhere (and learn where NOT to shop next time!)”
How many pop stars have heterodox views but don’t say them out of fear of retaliation? Probably plenty, they just don’t say it, because they don’t want their work to suffer the same fate of being banned by distributors.
Morrissey has made his entire career out of being an iconoclast who “will not change and will not be nice.” So much the better for his fans, who strive to lead lives according to their own value systems, and not those imposed by a hypocritical society hell-bent on squashing free thought and individuality while claiming to uphold those very qualities they persistently deride.
When the new album drops on March 20, it will be interesting to see which other shops signal their virtue by refusing to carry it, and which ones instead cater to consumers and offer it for sale. Not carrying “I am not a dog on a chain” has more to do with the owner’s false sense of righteousness than punishing Morrissey. Time and time again, Morrissey has shown that he can’t be shelved and forgotten. His work is too essential and beautiful for that.