HOLLYWOOD IS A COLD, COLD TOWN if you’re a member of an oppressed minority. Doors slammed in your face, unreturned phone calls, fighting to maintain your dignity, mocked, protested, laughed at.It’s no picnic being a white male in Hollywood. I’ll never be a member of Women in Show Business or Women in Theater. I’ll never be nominated for an NAACP Image award or a Nosotros Eagle or an Assn. of Asian/Pacific American Artists Jimmie award. What minority hiring program am I eligible for? When I lose out on a job, I won’t have the consolation of knowing that hiring bigots turned me down because they didn’t like my race or sex; instead, I’ll know they just didn’t like me. If Hollywood is an old boy’s network, how come I, as a possible old boy of the future, can’t get in? It’s so painful. I wondered what other minorities do to maintain their dignity; for inspiration, I turned, as I so often do, to showbiz luminaries for guidance. Helen Kushnick, short-lived exec producer of “The Tonight Show,” was accused of being abusive to the show’s staff and NBC management, of shouting at Jay Leno and at guests who’d agreed to appear on rival shows. Kushnick denied the allegations and blamed her bad press on sexism: “I’ve upset the balance of power. They don’t like a woman doing this.” Barbra Streisand, speaking at the Crystal Awards ceremony of Women in Film–nothing sexist about that group–came up with a really original take on double standards: “A man is commanding–a woman is demanding. A man is forceful–a woman is pushy. A man is uncompromising–a woman is a ballbreaker. A man is a perfectionist –a woman is a pain in the ass.” OK, so maybe a lot of male actors, agents, studio heads and producers–you’d recognize their names in an instant–have reputations for being demanding, pushy and a pain in the ass. OK, so maybe Angela Lansbury, Suzanne de Passe, Sherry Lansing and Goldie Hawn, for example, have nice reputations, are effective businesspersons and yet, to all outward appearances, they are women. Look, this is an emotional issue and there’s no point in trying to bring logic into the argument. Streisand was not nominated for an Oscar for directing “Prince of Tides” and many were outraged (producer Lynda Obst said, “Barbra suffers for our sins”); NOW’s L.A. chapter said it was an “obvious exhibition of sexism.” When Tammy Bruce, prez of L.A. NOW, was reminded that many deserving male directors also had not been nominated, she said, “How dare (people) try to compare the privileged ones with the experience of women who have been discriminated against on a continual basis in this industry.” Asked about the relative lack of Emmys for “Designing Women,” writer-creator Linda Bloodworth-Thomason said, “Let’s face it, the (TV) Academy is made up of men.” (Apparently Diane English counts as a man.) MOVING FROM CHARGES OF SEXISM TO RACISM, Marilyn Shearer has rewritten children’s stories and fairy tales with black characters, saying if readers are upset by any reverse-racist overtones in her books, it’s “probably healthy.” Sister Souljah said, “When I see white people, I don’t trust them. None of them.” Spike Lee criticized WB for not giving him all the money he asked for on “Malcolm X.” He said, “I want the same treatment Oliver Stone got from Warner Bros.” on “JFK.” Yeah, well, so do I and I think Stone’s Oscars and box office successes shouldn’t really be a factor. Lee urged all blacks to take the day off from school or work when “Malcolm X” opens because people owe it to Malcolm X the man and to the movie. He said Hollywood needs to see big opening numbers for this film and it needs to be a hit. He’s right. I guess he just forgot to inform people of the urgency of taking off from work and school to boost box office for other black films, like “Boyz N the Hood,””Juice,””Class Act,” etc. You never get the sense any of these people is hiding behind charges of racism and sexism just to emotionally blackmail people into getting what they want. IT’S BEYOND QUESTION that there is an appalling amount of sexism and racism in America. But some say these people are in fact perpetuating bigotry by pointing up separateness and by taking focus away from more widespread and more pressing problems in the areas of racism and sexism. However, I would never make those accusations because I might be accused of being racist and sexist. Jonathan Miller, British physician, writer, director, performer and all-around interesting guy, is part Jewish. But, he said, that’s not a significant factor in his life; he only brings up that fact to embarrass someone who’s just made an anti-Semitic remark. Miller said he’s always surprised to hear remarks like “Can you imagine doing a thing like that to a Jewish person?” because the true question should be “Can you imagine doing a thing like that to a human being?” By pointing up the differences, you only further the divisiveness, said Miller. So if I understand him correctly, Miller is implying people should not ask for respect because they are black or female, but because they’re human beings, and to do otherwise is counterproductive. You can tell he’s a foreigner and doesn’t understand this country in the least. This is the land of opportunity, which means that if you don’t get what you want, you have the opportunity to attack others. That’s what keeps elections interesting, and that’s what keeps courtrooms humming with lawsuits. And that’s what keeps put-upon people like Spike and Barbra and Tammy and me going. It’s the American way.
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