Step 1: Study the Demographics and Stock Your Writer’s Room Accordingly
Minority is a numeric term. Call me a sensitive Jew, but when I start hearing people referred to in numeric terms, I get a little nervous chill of disgust running down my spine. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that I was being counted and numbered by two graduate students eyeing me up in their rear-view mirror and asking, “Why are there so many of you in the media?”
Oddly enough, the same people who are so quick to decide that Hitler’s IBM-precision math was a bad thing have absolutely no problem counting and grouping heads when it comes to who appears on a television screen.
The Writers Guild of America-West recently released a series of statistics on “minorities” in television writing rooms:
…fewer than 2 of every 10 writers is African American, Latino or Asian (or Native American). And most TV writers are based in L.A., a county where one out of every two of us is Latino. …female representation in writers’ rooms has only gone up 5 percent, to 30.5. …Among the ranks of executive producers, women are underrepresented at a rate of 2-1, with minorities at nearly 5-1, the Guild says. …One in 10 shows during that latest season had zero — count ‘em, zero — women on their writing staffs, says the group: Nearly one-third (!!!) had not one minority writer on staff.
Responding to these numbers, “the Guild has developed a Writer Access Project to get minority and women writers gigs in Hollywood.”
Their answer to numbers is, of course, more numbers. Not the kind of numbers that give hard evidence of discrimination against these “minorities” when it comes to hiring writing staff; after all, how do you know that more latinos, blacks, women, and gays wouldn’t prefer to be doctors, lawyers, or teachers rather than TV writers? No, an absence of appropriate quotas must mean prejudice, therefore, we need to encourage those kids who want to be doctors but can’t afford medical school to take that free program in screenwriting instead. As for the kids who want to be writers, if they’re white Jews, they’ll have to pay their own way …after all, there’s “so many of you” in the media already.