Did you hear?
Contrary to popular beliefs, multiple trade reports, numerous court cases, dozens of law suits, hundreds of lost jobs, a handful of evil Excel spreadsheets calling out evil Hollywood taskmasters, a few New Yorker articles, a trio of primetime news reports and a thousand screen-shot text messages…
People are still throwing phones in Hollywood.
What do we mean by that? Is that some kind of metaphor for society putting away technology in favor of connecting more intimately with the people they work with? Is that a euphemism for “throwing old communication practices” out the window?
No. We mean that people…real people, in supervisory positions in Hollywood…are still throwing cell phones at their assistants when they get mad at them for not doing a variety of things that include (but are not limited to): missing a phone call, forgetting to ask for “no cheese” on that burrito, not aligning those picture frames which keep going crooked when trucks drive past the office building, looking talent directly in the eye, sitting at the conference room table when they should really be sitting on the outer ring of the conference room table, asking a stupid question, evaluating a script incorrectly, taking too long for lunch, being five minutes late in the morning, or being unable to charter a plane to a third-world country on a moment’s notice.
Yes – we’re talking about that.
And although, yes, people are still throwing phones at the people who work for them, they are also yelling at them, calling them horrible names, giving them the cold shoulder, wielding their power over them in a myriad of ways, paying them slave wages, and generally incorporating the same kind of hazing they were privy to as they came up in the industry in their current management style in our Lord’s year of two-thousand and twenty.
The progress we think we’re all making? The forward motion we all talk about in social situations? The great changes the trades tell us all that are being made? Women directors, minority writers, respectful bosses?
There are some, it’s true. But there are more assholes out there than not, and the only difference is that these days they’re simply being more careful about how they treat the people around them than before.
The unfortunate thing is that the last two years of chaos has made business harder and contractual language more stringent; it has made Executives lament being unable to “just get shit done” instead of always having to be extra cautious about “how they get shit done”. It has done some good, but it has generally just made people more cautious and creative about how they deal with others instead of realizing that the way in which they’ve worked with people in the past is just wrong and needs to be changed.
But some things, it seems, cannot be changed. Much like an eight year old racist won’t even change the color of his stripes, Hollywood has been acting a certain way for so long, that it’s ingrained in so many of the institutions that make the Entertainment business tick. And while the younger generation is working to change that, the powerful gatekeepers still remain consistent in their actions as before.
So, yes — phones are being hurled at heads.
So what are we all to do? What’s the solution? How can things change?
It, unfortunately, starts with those in the power positions. It’s the phone throwing, voice-raising, look-glaring Executives who think they deserve to act this way because that’s how they were treated, who need to change there attitudes. There is a growing group of creatives out there who are starting to make a dent. There is the rallying cry, “life’s too short to work with assholes” that has been incrementally growing in volume over the last five years. People don’t want to work with a-holes. They want to work with people who share their passion for Entertainment. They want to go home at night and feel good about what they’ve done.
Eventually, if enough of these people in these positions can pivot, we’ll start to see change. We’ll start to see a difference being made.
But it won’t mean that people will stop throwing phones.
Because in any society, in any business, in any area of this world — there are always going to be people throwing phones. You can never fully root out the phone-throwers. It’s a fact of life. The phonies are here to stay.
But if you can drown them out with the collective voice of good, eventually their power won’t much matter.