Woke Insurance? It’s the New Normal in Hollywood

12 Jan 2022

CLAY: I was reading, and I shared with you, there’s a great Substack piece up from Bari Weiss about Hollywood trying to grapple with woke universe taking over in L.A., and what it’s doing for hiring. I don’t know if you watch Curb Your Enthusiasm. Did you watch the most recent season at all?

BUCK: I’ve seen some of it. You are up on the TV pop culture, too.

CLAY: Yeah, well, I mean, I try. The way I dial out’s watching shows with my wife late at night now. So I watch Curb, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and there’s a great satire that is not directly acknowledged that’s going on throughout the entirety of the season. Every time that Larry meets with an entertainment executive — Netflix, Hulu, HBO, whoever it is — there’s a white guy in charge, and the white guy has a coterie of three advisers who are the most diverse and inclusive group you could possibly imagine there for every meeting with them.

And it’s almost like the piece that Barry White House’s Substack has up, talks about the need for woke insurance because people in high levels of prominence in Hollywood are terrified to say what they actually think, and so they surrounded themselves with “diverse and inclusive” audiences to try to protect themselves.

BUCK: This all comes right out of the academy. This is really what it is.

CLAY: Yeah. Right.

BUCK: The diversity czars, or when I was at Amherst it was, “diversity educators,” they called them, were people whose only job was to walk around, have meaningless forums that nobody would attend except for a few students who wanted to whine about how everything is racist.

CLAY: Total losers. Total losers were going to diversity inclusion seminars in college.

BUCK: I also love the… This was a common theme at Amherst. You’d have a white kid who grew up in the wealthiest suburbs of Boston or maybe in Westchester area of New York —

CLAY: Yeah.

BUCK: — in his parents’ Range Rover. No offense, Clay. I know you’re a Range Rover guy — in his parents Range Rover who would get up at the podium and be like, “We are so racist at this school.” It’s so obvious, man. Just give it a break. There was so much of that that would go on. But this comes right out of the school system, the university system where they’ve been creating this, really, army of diversity educators for years so that they can seem less racist.

And now it’s gone into corporate America and all of the rest of it. You have all this corporate inclusion training.


BUCK: This piece that Bari Weiss has on her Substack is fascinating, ad I’ll just say before we even get into it: I think this is why, in part, there’s so much garbage content from Hulu and Netflix and these other places, because there are all these considerations that go into show running — making a show — that have nothing to do with, “Does the audience like this? Is this great content?” It’s all about politics. But take it away.

CLAY: Yeah. It’s a fascinating article on the Substack here, Bari Weiss’ Substack. You can go read it. I tweeted it out earlier today. It’s called Hollywood’s New Rules, and the two authors are Peter Kiefer and Peter Savodnik. Basically, their entire argument is… Listen to this opening paragraph, Buck. It will sound like something you would anticipate. But the number of people that were even willing to be quoted in here is insanely low, because people are so afraid.

We were talking about Aaron Rodgers and Novak Djokovic and Kyrie Irving and how all three of them have such success as athletes that they feel comfortable speaking out. No one will even talk about this in Hollywood. But this is the opening of the article: “A few years ago, the editor-in-chief of The Hollywood Reporter pitched a story to the newsroom. He had just come back from lunch with a well-known agent, who had suggested the paper take a look at the unintended consequences of Hollywood’s efforts to diversify.

“Those white men who had spent decades writing scripts — which had been turned into blockbuster movies and hit television shows — were no longer getting hired. The newsroom blew up. The reporters, especially the younger ones, mocked the idea that white men were on the outs. The editor-in-chief, normally self-assured, immediately backtracked. He looked rattled,” and what is amazing here is the article is about “[t]he ‘explosion of woke,’ as one longtime producer put it…”

It has taken over completely in Hollywood to the extent, Buck, I didn’t even recall this — did you know this? — by 2024, a movie will not be eligible for Best Picture unless it meets a diversity requirement by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. You have to check a box that you have enough people of diverse background in order to be capable of winning a Best Picture!

BUCK: It’s not even for the actors on the screen. It’s everything. It’s top to bottom.

CLAY: Yes.

BUCK: It is the writers, the producers, it’s the camera people, it’s everything put together. Now, what you see here is really effectively unconstitutional and illegal, but we’ve had what the Supreme Court has called “the racial entitlement state” building for a long time where they play these games. Here, for example, is one of the games that’s being played in Hollywood right now: “Oh, they’re not quotas. We’re just only going to hire certain BIPOC people,” black, indigenous, Pacific… I actually keep forgetting the whole thing.

CLAY: I don’t even know what all these acronyms stand for anymore.

BUCK: I’m usually pretty good on the left-wing jargon.

CLAY: BIPOC is a phrase that’s used.

BUCK: Oh. Black Indigenous Person of Color.

CLAY: Okay.

BUCK: I remember now. ‘Cause they change all the time. I read the left-wing crazy stuff so that I can bring it to your attention.

CLAY: So does Asian count in this BIPOC?

BUCK: Well, Asians actually have this categorization that is deeply offensive — and I am sort of quoting the left-wing version of this — where they call them “white adjacent.”

CLAY: Oh, yeah.

BUCK: When you think about it, this gets into some of the ugliest parts of racism around the world in the past. And of course a lot of Americans unfortunately on the left on too ignorant and stupid to know that racism actually exists all over the world and in much more open and real ways, including in nonwhite societies, by the way, or predominantly nonwhite societies.

There’s all kinds of racism, and of course religious bigotry and other things. But drilling down here for a second, they have quotas; they just don’t call them quotas. This is what they’ve done on the university system for a long time. This is why, you know, whatever their percentage is at Harvard of black students — say it’s 15% or 12% — somehow it’s the same every year, but there’s no quota, right?

What they’re doing in Hollywood right now is forgetting about the basic principle of each person’s equality and hiring the best person for the job and replacing it with, we need to make up for “historic injustice” by being unjust to — let’s just say it — white males today in Hollywood. That is what the Bari Weiss piece is saying. That is the thrust of it, and the only argument against this is, “Shut up or you’ll never work again,” Clay. That’s the situation in Hollywood.

CLAY: Yeah, and they’re not even hiding the quotas that they’re doing. In this article, I couldn’t believe it. CBS… A pretty big company, CBS. They have mandated that writers’ rooms be at least 40% BIPOC for this year. Next year, they have to be at least 50% BIPOC, and so you’re judging people entirely based on the color of their skin as to whether or not they get a job.

And there are all these stories in here about how writers who are working on shows don’t even feel comfortable speaking honestly in their writing rooms. And, Buck, I’ve done a little bit… I spend a lot of time and have spent a lot of time in L.A. over the years, so I have a lot of friends out there. But the way that you end up with a humorous show is you have a lot of really funny people sitting around a table throwing out ideas, and sometimes those ideas are uncomfortable.

Sometimes they are bordering on totally inappropriate. Sometimes they are totally inappropriate. In fact, there was a great lawsuit involving the Friends television show where some of the writers filed a lawsuit accusing sexual harassment in the writing room based on the topics that were discussed, and they said, “No, no, no!” To the credit of the court, they said, “The way that you create something new is by having unvarnished conversations,” right, “effectively, in the creative classes.”

Hollywood — and I talked to a buddy about this recently. His argument was Hollywood used to be, L.A. in general used to be the place where you went if you were a little bit different. If you were gay. If you were maybe a person of color and you wanted to try to find an opportunity. If you were Jewish — which is how Hollywood was founded — all these recent immigrants who are Jewish set up the movie industry effectively in L.A.

It was a place for eccentrics and people outside the bounds of normal, “acceptable,” in quotation marks, discourse, and that’s usually what creative people are. Now that same person argued that Hollywood and L.A. has become the most stultifying place anywhere in the country ’cause if you don’t have the right opinion, you aren’t allowed to be employed, and you also can’t even speak.

BUCK: It’s like the faculty lounge for the women and gender studies department of Wesleyan University is in charge of what you get to watch on Netflix now, not just in the executive suite, but all the way down to the producers. I’m sure even the caterers. People involved in every aspect of this now are covered by these are stealth quotas, okay? That is what they do.

This is the game the left plays ’cause a quota, an actual hard quota that you would put out there saying, “We are only doing X ore Y,” that often leads to lawsuits. You’re not allowed. You can’t do that in hiring, you can’t do that openly. But they’re getting away with it right now, ’cause it’s an obvious violation of the equal-protection clause, obvious violation of anti-discrimination statues. But, of course, anti-white discrimination has been not just normalized but turned into a goal —

CLAY: Badge of honor.

BUCK: — and an open badge of honor for the left. And it’s fascinating to watch this play out because all the situations are happening exactly as we would think. Now the left starts to consume its own. They create an actual hierarchy of victimhood so you get sort of points for being in this level. You’re still a victim but less of a victim, points for that level depending on are you black, are you Asian, are you Hispanic?

And what’s fascinating is that they also don’t want to admit this but it’s true, there is a reality here — this is true in the college admission system where you actually have objective markers. But what is happening in Hollywood — and they won’t say this, but we know it’s happening, because otherwise why do they have to have those quotas in place? — is they are taking somebody who’s just not as funny to be a writer, but who happens to be a woman or they’re taking someone who’s not as funny to be a writer, to be a producer, whatever the case may be — and we’re talking about comedy here, but it could be anything.

CLAY: Drama, could be anything.

BUCK: They’ll be not as talented — that’s a better word to use — not as skilled in the medium, but they fit a criteria that appeals to the left that is about skin color or gender or gender identity. And I really do believe this is why you have a lot of… It’s amazing how much money is poured in to absolutely horrible shows that nobody watches at Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, et cetera. Amazing.

CLAY: Well, and the argument too in this piece — and I would encourage people to read it we’ll share it from the Clay and Buck Twitter account — is that it’s setting itself up for a monster class-action lawsuit because one part of the story just features emails from executives saying, “Hey, you can’t get this job because the person who’s gonna be hired has to be a woman of color.”

Or “you can’t get this job because they have a white person already working in a role like this, so it has to be a diversity hire” literally written in emails. And so the possibility here, Buck, is that a class-action lawsuit, if people were willing to bring it — and that’s one of the challenges, too, ’cause you’re basically cutting your own throat in the industry. It would be, I think, staggering to see what is actually being discussed in many ways surrounding the situation in L.A.

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