Biden's roster of executive orders—second only to FDR's—is starting to read like a diary of sorts. Last week, his latest and greatest Executive Order on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in the Federal Workforce, hit the press. It includes lots of vague language about the need to be more equitable and diverse when hiring for government positions. There is much talk of measuring diversity within a department or agency with data, destroying "equity barriers", and the like, but no talk of what those quotas will be. What's clear is that this is affirmative action on steroids.
Amazon Studios, the branch of Amazon dealing with film and television, on the other hand, just released an "Inclusion Playbook" that does include numbers—a hint of things to come. For example, for below-the-line roles , productions must hire "30% white men, 30% white women and non-binary people, 20% men from underrepresented races and ethnicities, and 20% women and non-binary people from underrepresented races and ethnicities." Additionally, writers are not permitted to write characters that don't come from their same ethnic, racial, religious, or sexual group. Something like 30% of speaking roles must be given to marginalized groups and 50% of that 30% must be women. There are strict rules for reporting on the diversity of a production and if productions fail to meet diversity quotas, they must provide Amazon with concrete ideas on how to atone for their color-blind sins. We could go on, but you get the picture.
From a distance, it is comical to read carefully crafted documents like this and wonder how they came up with the numbers and chose to lump, say, white women with non-binary people in their quotas. At the beginning of the document, there's a big disclaimer that "Underrepresented racial/ethnic groups in this document are based on the Census in the US, and include Black or African American, Hispanic/Latinx, Asian, American Indian/Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern/North African, and Multiracial/Multiethnic." I suppose Lumière and D.W. Griffith, the pioneers of the medium, will get swept under the rug. They don't fall under any of the "sufficiently un-American" categories on that list. Is it possible they left someone out or is that just every corner of the globe that isn't European and/or American? Are Irish-Italians considered multiethnic? Should I just say I'm gay on my job application so I can get hired?
Cinema, the original art form of and for the people, can no longer claim that title. Film has always walked a tenuous line between art and propaganda, but diversity quotas certainly push it towards the latter. Amazon is not in the business of making good movies. They are in the business of parroting state-sanctioned talking points to curry favor with the CIA, FTC, Treasury Department, and, increasingly, China.
For the past 40 years, the film market in China has exploded overtaking the US for the first-time in the history of the medium in 2020 as lockdowns forced US theaters into bankruptcy. For American film studios (such as Amazon), the Chinese market allows them to essentially double their revenue. The catch is that Chinese censors are sensitive to LGBT-whatever characters, negative depictions of China itself, and any mention of Taiwan as a free country (which John Cena learned the hard way). Studios are all too willing to cynically declare that a character in Avengers: Endgame is gay in a trite cutscene that can easily be removed for Chinese censors later. There are examples abound of studios exporting heavily edited versions of American films to appease Chinese censors—Bohemian Rhapsody, for example—and even movies designed solely with Chinese audiences in mind such as Rampage, Skyscraper, Venom, and The Mummy. Do these movies meet the diversity quotas? Will the Chinese import a movie helmed by a bisexual, genderless, black woman? Diversity is our strength—unless China asks.
But imagine for a second if all filmmakers had the gall of Quentin Tarantino who responded when prodded by Hollywood executives to remove the masterful scene lampooning Bruce Lee in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood... so the movie could get play in China with a firm no. Hollywood does not have to be this way.
 Below-the-line roles include assistant directors, gaffers, editors, make-up, cameramen, etc. This is distinct from above-the-line roles that include director, producer, writer, and actors.
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🧠 TODAY IN: News designed to enrage you
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One Good Read
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From the Archive
Words of Wisdom
If once the people become inattentive to public affairs, you and I and Congress and Assemblies, Judges and Governors, shall all become wolves. It seems to be the law of our general nature in spite of individual expectations.
Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1800