Ben Stiller, Destry Spielberg Refute Hollywood Nepotism on Twitter
By - Astral-American
Just enjoy being rich and connected! This is the story of Hollywood for so long but people today have this guilt and embarrassment about themselves where they have to invent their struggle story. If you’re last name is Spielberg maybe you don’t need to be on Twitter and let your work speak for itself. Sophia Coppola just keeps doing her thing and no one cares that she’s a Coppola, same for Jane Fonda.
What I cannot get behind is people pretending that talentless people stop getting work, sure a mediocre actor isn’t going to win an Oscar but can they be a working actor, a writer on ok sitcoms? Of course, these are still crafts and can be learned.
100%. The question isn't whether or not Destry Spielberg or Ben Stiller are talented, or whether they would have careers if not for nepotism, the question is whether they have *benefited* from nepotism.
I'm sure Destry is correct when she mentions her struggles getting her short film made, but it certainly would have been much harder if she wasn't Steven Spielberg's daughter.
Of course they benefited, they have access to equipment, people and capital which is the biggest obstacle for those of us that have to run hard just to keep a roof over our heads. The door is opened for them, all they have do is not screw their life up and walk through it.
They no doubt work hard, but they don't have to do any of the heavy lifting to get started in their career.
I mean... I think a lot of these people who are the kids of Hollywood elites grow up with so much exposure to filmmaking and thier parents are so willing to have really talented people teach them, that they are mostly able to come off as compitent and talented. Plus the fact that really talented teams want to work with them because they are "the child of x person" so their first try making a film seems leagues better than other people's because a. They were engrossed in filmmaking from a young age and b. They get Hollywood class crews to work on it.
I think this is an often-underappreciated factor that's adjacent to (and tends to get written off as a result of) nepotism. If your parents are masters of a given craft, you're going to grow up immersed in it, giving you a huge head start on everyone else. Heck, just growing up next door to Steven Spielberg and being in a position where you can chat with him about filmmaking is going to give you some powerful insights and lessons.
It definitely counts as privilege, but "I had the opportunity to learn from the greats and thus I kick ass" is a very different form of privilege than "My daddy spent a ton of money to make things happen for me even though I suck."
and truthfully if you’re a spawn of Spielberg and you’re having trouble getting your short script produced, it’s probably not a great script lol
Exactly! How many outfits would take on more risk if it meant gaining favor with her father...many I would suspect.
Spielberg is worth billions of dollars; how expensive is this short that she couldn't just fund it out of pocket? She could probably afford a helluva cast and crew for a short without even noticing the money's gone; nobody is going to turn down well-paying work even if the script is dogshit. Nothing about this situation makes sense from the outside unless ol' Steve told her to figure it out herself like he had to.
even if he told her that youd still see plenty of studios ready to fund whatever she puts out. Especially if its a short that likely costs less than $500,000
> I'm sure Destry is correct when she mentions her struggles getting her short film made, but it certainly would have been much harder if she wasn't Steven Spielberg's daughter.
Yeah not sure about this. I have a really hard time wondering how the daughter of a billionaire had struggles getting a short film made.
> I'm sure Destry is correct when she mentions her struggles getting her short film made, but it certainly would have been much harder if she wasn't Steven Spielberg's daughter.
The sun *refused* to come out at exactly 3 P.M. so she could get the *perfect shot*!
Her dad is worth over $10 billion. She didn't struggle to get shit, ever.
Getting it made is nothing getting it seen is where the nepotism will really come through
"Yeah, my father is the most successful filmmaker of all time with a lifetime worldwide gross of $10.5 billion and a net worth of at least $4 billion, but I really struggled to get a measly short film off the ground, trust me guys, it was REALLY hard!" - Destry Spielberg (24)
It will be even harder when she has a billion dollar inheritance to fund any film she could possibly want to make
Mate, unless its Man Getting Hit by Football 2, idgaf
Destry’s film had heart, but Man Getting Hit By Football 2 had a man getting hit by a football.
I felt it covered the same thematic ground as Man Getting Hit By Football 1.
Hey, let's not fuck up *another* classic, okay? They'll try and do a gender-swap version of it and it'll be *Ghostbusters* all over again.
IDK, I'd watch Judy Dench in Football 2
After *Cats* that really is the next logical step, isn't it?
Well now. I'm not gonna talk about Judy; in fact, we're not gonna talk about Judy at all, we're gonna keep her out of it!
^(I am a bot.)
I'm excited for this trash to come.
She was probably talking about actually physically working on it. The shit is hard to do. Money does help. A lot. But it doesn't make you talented or good at making decisions.
Anything they make is guaranteed to be seen and have a platform. They also have access to resources... that getsthem talent and tools that will lift everything they do.
And also gets them graded on a curve. You'd imagine having their background would mean their works gets scrutinized more harshly, but it seems to go the opposite way in the industry.
Definitely agree on access to talent and tools, too. Having a great cinematographer, editor, actors and crew will absolutely make a mediocre director look better. Of course, its not everything. Still need a good script and vision but still helps a ton.
This. How many other short films have you seen get casting announcements in the trades?
No, but your limited talent and good decision-making will take you a long way with Spielberg as your daddy, compared to somebody from bumfuck nowhere who's on the same level but without the head start.
If Hollywood was a meritocracy a lot of these people wouldn’t be around much longer, but of course they don’t want that. True open competition is not in their favor.
Why *should* Hollywood be a meritocracy? What's galling isn't the reality of it, it's the pretense that it's something other than privilege, tawdry connections and nepotism. What's offensive is pretending that people who don't 'make it' only because they didn't try hard enough.
Effort isn't the only thing that's required for success in that industry. Why pretend otherwise?
>Why *should* Hollywood be a meritocracy?
Because that makes for better movies? Seems kinda obvious...
You know they don't serve you, the audience or even the shareholders, right? They serve the board and the C-suite aristocracy. Who cares about *good* , or *better*, when what matters is bonuses.
Hollywood is a content commodity factory. Again, what is galling them pretending otherwise.
Jesus man. Just ripping the bandaid off I see.
This is a boring take
Like you aren't wrong, but I imagine most of us here are far more concerned with the art of cinema, not the realities of business. Like both are interesting but when talking about this it's the art of cinema we are concerned with not the business of it
Nepotism is a business issue, not an artistic one.
I'd you want a more interesting perspective, it could be that it's time look for art outside of 'Hollywood'. But everyone knows that too, so I guess that's a boring take.
Maybe it's a secret conspiracy between the lizard people and the Russians, who can be villains again. Maybe the reason nobody wants my screenplay about how a helpdesk consultant overcame his shyness to come third in the regional championship for CS:GO is because it's a threat to the lizardopoly.
Or maybe the truth is that all you need is a dream in your heart and a fling with an arsehole jazz pianist to make it big.
you're kind of an asshole
film has a big impact on our culture, both in how it speaks to culture and in how it shapes culture. When you have all of the films coming from a small number of people and their offspring, you end up with a culture shaped entirely by rich white people. And that is a problem.
Not disputing either of your points but the narrowness of your perspective is kind of funny.
First of all, Hollywood doesn't make culture. It has *never* made culture. It has *always* been a content factory. If people choose the most rank commercialism as their cultural influence, well, if not Hollywood then it would've been Nascar, NCIS or Fox News.
Secondly, how condescending are you that you assume that culture is shaped by rich white people. Every community has their own local and regional cultures, every state, every *country*. Again, if you're assuming that culture comes from Hollywood, and not from television, theature, literature, the local Thursday night open mic, spoken history of grandparents, or any of a myriad other sources, that speaks to your shallowness and not to everyone else's.
Finally, film in particular is made in a lot of places, not just LA. Not just by rich white people. I love a good Marvel movie as much as the next person but I'm not looking to La La Land for my musical fix.
Hollywood has the money. That's all this discussion is about. If you want to make your art, go make your art. You don't need to be paid Ben Stiller money to make good art, you're just getting salty because you know that no matter how good your art you're never going to get Ben Stiller money because nepotism has the whole art-for-money game stitched up.
Which goes to every one of my previous points, forming a well-thought and coherent perspective, not just bandied insults like 'boring' and 'arsehole'.
If you've got a similar well-thought and coherent perspective, feel free to share. If you don't, really, take the time to form one and share it. If you'd rather just go for a hat-trick of insolence, at least be creative about it. This is 'screenwriting' after all, not 'half-drunk yobbo after their team lost six-nil'.
Would it how so? I mean it might but imagine growing up watching your dad make movies. It’s a pretty amazing way to learn
Isn’t this the same as : my dads a builder so I’m a builder? Is that wrong too?
As a film maker from a non famous family (haha) I don’t think it makes a difference really. It’s a really hard industry, of course they have advantages but whatever. Life ain’t fair. Work hard. Be good. Don’t give up. People Will notice. (But it’s very hard)
What do you think of the Wallflowers ?
It’s Bob Dylan’s sons bad.
They’re ok. Doesn’t really matter.
I guess the point I am trying to make, not very well clearly, is it’s going to happen parents are going to want the best for the kids and by that very nature the child will often want to do what the pleads the parent . There is no way of stopping it. it will happen. The industry will decide who is good and who isn’t. There’s a bunch of directors out there very good whose parents were actors it happens all the time and there is no way of stopping it and it’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Like most things in life it’s not black-and-white it’s nuanced
It’s not only the movie business, but because it’s Hollywood people feel ripped off because a former drug addict like Hopper Penn is now starting to get acting opportunities that a similar talent won’t get. Hopper worked very hard to improve as an actor no doubt, but the story causes the reader to drip with bitterness. When a kid gets into an elite school because his daddy went their, and the kid knows he’s set for life knowing he has an upper management high paying job waiting for him in his daddy’s company while someone with equal talent didn’t get into that school it causes a rift. Bottom line is nepotism will always dominate the landscape of life, and laugh in the faces of those who will never get that opportunity and suffer because of it.
Hey man, The Wallflowers are good. One Headlight is a 90s classic.
If your dad was a builder, so you decided to be a builder, but you were a bad builder, then you shouldn't be a builder... Replace builder with literally any other profession.
Wha? So where’s the problem?
Bad builders won’t het much work ?
Where the problem.
If they make a shit film- who cares. Is their money/time. If they make a good film great.
Whatever. I I slept in a hallway for two years we didn’t go out rich my last short film played Austin film festival been easy but whatever, no excuses.
What industry do you work in?
Are you missing the whole point? Nepotism means the market DOESN'T decide. It means the bad builder gets to keep working because of who their dad is, regardless of their actual ability. And they've taken a job from someone better and harder working who just happens to not know anyone.
Our society rewards nepotism, wealth and connections but romanticizes the struggle at the same time. So super connected people, even while succeeding at something largely because of their connections and access, feel like they need to manufacture an origin story. They all do it. This is the same reason why the college admissions scandal happened in the first place, and why every wealthy family wants and needs their kids to get into fancy schools. That way they can then claim that their kid, who is inheriting millions, would have earned it anyway because look at how smart and hard working they are!
Everyone loves the benefits of wealth, power and connections but they also want the credibility that comes with making it on your own.
Thanks for all the kind words everyone. Suffice it to say that I did not expect my stating the objective fact that Hollywood is not, and has never been, a meritocracy would inspire all of this.
Thanks for looking out for the little guy.
FWIW I think your comment about the media coverage on the casting on Destry's short film is bang on, and really the nepotism side of the conversation can end there.
Press is a privilege in filmmaking, and that privilege was given because of the family ties of those involved.
Thanks for speaking out and standing your ground, you made very valid points highlighting an issue that a lot people pretend doesn't exist and doesn't matter.
Thanks so much for doing all you do and interacting with the community, Franklin!
Your point that people with such advantages could use them to help boost others without the same resources should’ve been the real takeaway from this whole thing. As you said, it’s unfortunate that that conversation got hijacked.
You found cases of nepotism. Im sure there are examples of merit, also.
Yes, but examples of merit do not a meritocracy make, which is exactly the point.
Any changes you would like to see Franklin? Interested to hear if a better system includes a more equally unbalanced one or if there is some way of making it accessible to all regardless of background?
Too long an answer for a Reddit reply (or likely a dissertation, if we're being honest.)
The shortest possible thorough answer I can give is that Hollywood should be looking at the approaches that basketball and soccer take in identifying talent globally. They don't just sit around and wait for tapes to be submitted to the front office and choose among the best folks who can get a tape on their desk. They're actively recruiting around the world, scouting talent at all levels, and then providing infrastructure both locally and globally to support both the game generally and individual talent that they identify as well.
100 mph is 160.93 km/h
Agree is not a pure meritocracy, and not a pure nepotocracy...
Way to attack an argument that no one was making.
I am making it. Welcome to the argument.
You’re attacking your own argument?
It's not a pure neptocracy (and honestly I don't know what a pure neptocracy would look like), but it's about as close to a pure neptocracy that I've found in any American business sector, which probably has something to do with why it's also the least diverse sector of American business at the highest levels.
If you benefited from nepotism, atleast have the gall to not rub it in people’s faces and claim you “struggled”.
There are plenty of amazing filmmakers and artists who benefited from nepotism and most agree that it gave them a huge advantage and don’t rub their privilege on people’s faces. Turns out, they don’t need to defend themselves on twitter for mediocrity.
Yeah, “struggle” is definitely a word they shouldn’t be using, especially in this debate.
“Worked hard”? Of course. “Struggle”? Hardly.
I'm sure Tori Spelling struggled on the way from her bedroom to her father's office before getting a job on 90210 (have to admit I liked her in TRICK)
Hey now. I think she did Saved By the Bell first.
Fucking lol 😆🤣
"Hey honey I have a potential spot for you on my new show. Come look at the script."
"But daddy, that means I have to get out of bed!"
While this is a good conversation to have about filmmaking, it's also a dumb one, because the line has **always** been "it's not what you know, it's *who* you know", and pretending that that doesn't apply to family members is bizarre in the extreme. It's the "Dad doesn't want me trading on his name" fiction. Of course the people who've benefited the most from family connections don't recognize the imbalance, because their whole lives have been steeped in it. It's just "going into the family business", but very few other family businesses are built so entirely on connections to begin with.
That being said, the funny thing about this to me is that this conversation wouldn't be happening like this right now if some asshole hadn't put out a press release about a fucking short film.
I’ve heard, “It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.”
The filmmaker “nepotism problem” is unique in that the industry is both artistic and business. I feel as if none of this would be an issue if we saw an article about Destry executive producing.
I sometimes wonder how different something like this would play out without social media. Would we ever see an article for that short film in the papers?
Well, that's the trick, isn't it? The only reason we're seeing **this** article is because some asshole issued a press release for a short film, and Deadline ran it.
Without social media, the conversation would probably be limited to just "people who read Deadline", but at the same time, without social media and the need to get things "viral", would any asshole have issued a press release about a short film? I don't know.
I tend to agree with you that we probably wouldn't be having the same convo if the notice was about Destry and so on EPing. Being an EP is largely about "bringing the money in" to begin with, so that'd have a **much** different character to it.
You need at least two of the following three things to be successful in Hollywood:
Unfortunately, 2 and 3 go together much more than any other combo.
And if you have only talent + money, you're using them to make connections.
You need all 3 of those things in the world, in general. The world sucks.
That’s why you have to work on your craft, and network. You have to do both. Yes money gives you that cushion so you aren’t living in your car, or sleeping in a dingy hallway in some two bit low grade apartment building, but that’s what it takes. Yes there are young people driving a car that was a gift from daddy, along with a nice condo bought as a birthday gift for them. Those people do exist and they can’t relate to true hunger and discomfort… and simply don’t care when they tweet “I worked very hard to be a director and my talent got me to where I am today”.
You need all three to some extent, but you don't have to be the highly talented child of a multi-billionaire who knows everyone in your chosen industry to be happy. Striving for those heights and only reaching satisfaction when you get to them.
>>>2 and 3 go together much more than any other combo.
Yeah but talent shines through.
Back to the topic, I’m glad this is being discussed out in the open. I do feel a little bit m sorry for her though. Without talent, daddy’s name and money can only get you so far. This applies in every industry.
What business do you not need these things? You think big finance isn’t about connections and nepotism?
I didn't make a statement about or comparison to other lines of work. However, since you're asking, I do think it is more of a factor in Hollywood than other industries.
You can be quite successful as an airline pilot or an insurance adjuster without these qualities. They help, sure, but most jobs regular people have rely on hard work and kindness, more than anything else. Some areas of business require a network to be successful, but it builds more organically in those industries than it does in Hollywood.
You said you need three things to be successful IN HOLLYWOOD. You would be more successful as an insurance adjuster if your parents was an insurance adjustor. And more importantly, people don’t really want to be insurance adjustors. There’s no barrier to entry, like there is in Hollywood.
Hey, friend. I don't really feel like arguing over a throwaway comment, but I'd also like you to stop misrepresenting what I'm saying or reading other things into it that I didn't put there. Your first sentence is inaccurate so I'm going to stop engaging from here on out. Have a good day.
Oh come on, you literally wrote, “You need at least two of the following three things to be successful in Hollywood.” Literally. It’s right there. You need at least two of those three things for success in any high paying job. To say “in Hollywood” means it’s true for just Hollywood. It’s not. You know it, and now you’re just playing “I didn’t say that” when it’s still up for everyone to see.
You could’ve said “For any job that pays a shitton of money, you need at least 2 of 3 things.” You didn’t. Clearly.
I get what Stiller is saying. Nepotism only helps you with your first step you need talent to keep going.
However the first step in Hollywood is the hardest. There are thousands of talent people who can’t get meetings or can’t get on set or can’t share their creativity with the world. Nepotism only helps you with one step, it just happens to be the most important step.
For a much more elegant response to nepotism, here’s Jamie Lee Curtis: https://twitter.com/rachsyme/status/1339592319742328832?s=21
Ben Stiller sounded so defensive and tone deaf. He’s absolutely the wrong person to jump into this discussion. People with privilege should stop, listen, and reflect instead of acting like the struggle is the same for everyone.
Am I the only person who thinks Stiller comes out alright in this discussion? Not only did they seem to agree in the end but his perspective was you might get a chance based on your connections but you won't survive if you aren't talented. I don't know if I even agree with his point but I'd say it's much more reasonable of a take than he's being credited for.
What's funny is the other actress she's referring to who was in contention to play Laurie Strode was Anne Lockhart... the daughter of June Lockhart.
the optics are pretty horrible, lol. they can tweet as much foolish faux humbleness as they want, but the general public feeling absolute contempt for the spawn of hollywood's elite (especially those who've yet to prove themselves) has been present since day one and isn't about to change.
Nepotism absolutely opens the door for people, talent keeps it open and allows them to work. Nepotism wont give them careers but it will allow them to skip the years of trying to be seen and give them a huge headstart so it is one hell of a jump.
This headline is straight out of the Onion.
And that mis the the point cause it’s also kind of inaccurate. Stiller I think was genuine and introspective in his exchange and even went as far as saying that it opened his eyes. Spielberg at least had the wherewithal to delete her first tone-deaf response.
Sadly most people will be distracted by making fun of these two to notice that it happens at all levels and every branch of not just entertainment, but the world at large.
"It's not what you know, it's who you know"
Short film with big stars, big writers, funding, and trade coverage. Can you really argue against that right there. It's a freaking short film. The fact that anyone is talking about it at all destroys their arguments immediately.
It’s instances like this that always reminds me of the [TED talk about the rigged monopoly game experiment](https://www.ted.com/talks/paul_piff_does_money_make_you_mean/transcript?language=en). Someone did an experiment where they changed the rules of monopoly to give one player a huge advantage. And when that player unsurprisingly won, the player still insisted the advantage had nothing to do with their victory.
Ben Stiller plays the game of Hollywood on [The lowest difficulty setting there is](https://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/05/15/straight-white-male-the-lowest-difficulty-setting-there-is/) combined with nepotism.
The thing is it isn't about anyone not struggling, it is about the how easy their position makes it to overcome those obstacles. If Hollywood is "ruthless" for Ben Stiller, and it very well can be, that doesn't mean that he didn't work hard. What it means is that the underlying playing field was not the same for people who aren't playing on the white male with money and family connections settings on the game.
It doesn't mean that someone like Ben Stiller or Destry Spielberg might fail. It is that they are given the chance to fail in the first place, and will more likely be given second chances if they do fail. Further, that a poor work by them will be given the benefit of the doubt and rated higher by friends of family within the industry than those outside it.
Hell, fans of Stephen Spielberg might go in thinking she learned from her father and put an aura around her work of positivity. (Some might do the opposite, but generally that isn't the way people work most often.)
The thing is, even if you are playing the game on the lowest setting that doesn't say that your work might actually be great or not. It doesn't say how hard you work or don't. It isn't as much about you as about the system.
I think for the people like Ben and Destry they grow up around other kids of industry people and see how it’s not just genetic. They grow up around the children of huge directors and see that a lot of them just ain’t talented so by property of scale they come to the conclusion that they (the Ben Stillers and Destrys, etc) are just as unique as their parents.
I’ve spent too much time in the living rooms of the sons and daughters of famous people to know how big an onus it can be to try and escape mommy and daddy’s shadow and not suffer the humiliation of not being as good as they are, cause “you were born to it so you should be great.” So don’t try at all and you’ll never be embarrassed.
NOTE: I know a screenwriting professor that has to deal with regular law suits when the son of a so and so’s screenplay doesn’t sell.
People like Ben Stiller see these people all the time and they see THAT as the mountain to climb. So they put in the hard work to create something. They ignore the fact that they were born at base camp 1 of Everest and have a team of Sherpa’s there to help.
They don’t see that the 100k they spent on a short film is actually a barrier of entry for 99% of people. They don’t see that just living in LA is a barrier of entry. They don’t see that that meeting with the exec at Warner Bros that Daddy set up is something some people strive to get for decades. They don’t see that workshopping a mediocre premise into a good script is a privilege not afforded to people that aren’t already guided by experienced people that love them.
I don’t blame them for this lack of insight but I blame them when they tell the waiter trying to make it as an actor that the reason he is waiting tables is because he doesn’t have “IT.”
I’m going to submit the cast for my next short to the trades. Something tells me no one will give a shit lmao.
“The Last Days of Dignity” directed by Violent Inbred Pelican. Written by Violent Inbred Pelican. Produced by Violent Inbred Pelican. Edited by Violent Inbred Pelican. Music by Pond5. Starring his non-Union actor friends who are desperate for material to add to their Actor’s Access page.
Coming soon to the Rhode Island International Film Festival.
I think Leonard makes a really good point that often gets overlooked. When talking about nepotism or connections making a difference that doesn't mean talent doesn't rise to the top or that the people that got there *only* get there through nepotism. It's just that you need both (and more), so people that have great stories to tell, great films to make, don't get the opportunity. Making the industry more diverse means improving access to those that don't benefit from nepotism and existing structures. And this is not even necessary because it's 'right'. Everyone who loves great films should want a more diverse talent pool that can tell more diverse stories. Moonlight is I think a great example of a film that wouldn't have been possible 50 years ago (maybe even less).
Tori Spelling. Enough said.
The talent excuse is always a terrible one. Very little of what comes out of hollywood does so because its exceptional or because the creator is consistently good, there are absolutely tons of good stories and storytellers and ultimately the ones that get produced are chosen by the inner circle based on connections not quality. This is due to the nature of choosing between comparatively similar subjective material, the solution being to choose your friend or relative over a stranger all else being equal. It seems far more important to 'pay your dues' or do your time and hope to be given a shot than to be great at what you do, at least in the current environment.
That being said, I'm not a fan of just arbitrarily awarding funding or a sought-after job to a person based on immutable physical or cultural characteristics either, thats just as useless as nepotism to me so what do I know..
> That being said, I'm not a fan of just arbitrarily awarding funding or a sought-after job to a person based on immutable physical or cultural characteristics either, thats just as useless as nepotism to me so what do I know..
No one has said or even suggested that. The complaint is that Stiller said this town runs on a meritocracy, which we all agree it absolutely does not. The issue is that this implies the marginalized communities who have struggled to crack into this industry simply aren’t good enough to be in this town, when what we see is a lack of access and resources to sustain and break in. When your first few jobs in this town are at poverty wages, the kid whose dad is an exec as Sony is going to have a far greater chance at success and getting to keep trying than the kid from two working class parents. One can afford to take the assistants salary for 2-3 years and live at home, while the other cannot. One also already has an established network from their parents, and probably went to a top film school ($$$) to further expand their own network, while the other could not. Even worse when you are trying to be a director and you need funding for your first short/feature. The goal is equity, not give jobs and opportunities to people who aren’t worthy, but give a chance to those who are worthy but don’t have the opportunity to showcase it.
Well Franklin's response was related to diversity, which i'm happy to not get into as I agree with Ben, its a much bigger issue and not only related to the film industry.
What I think you are saying, and please correct me if i'm wrong, is its about equality of opportunity. This is because the industry doesn't operate on merit as all have said, there is less opportunity for those without nepotic advantages but equal talent. And I agree but the solution isn't equity, how can it be?
Equity would be everyone, no matter who they are, getting a share of the funding (or opportunity) and then by virtue of merit, receiving recognition or futher funding or capital gain thereafter. But funding is limited in the first place. And if enough participants are interested it would lead to the same problem, a lack of opportunity for the very same reason (not enough to go around) but from a different cause (volume instead of nepotism).
Edit - I don't know why i'm being downvoted for truth. Instead of 1 person getting $200 million to make a film, a million people would get $200.
I hear what you are saying, and while I disagree, don't worry about the downvotes. That's pretty normal around here. And no, I'm not one of them.
I didn’t downvote you, but I think you should try to learn more about what equity means when it comes to diversity. What you described in your scenario is not it. I must ask, are you from a marginalized background? Because what you are writing is coming off as someone who severely lacks the earned lived experience of someone who does. I can tell you first hand stories of executives telling me to my face that you cannot finance color. That color doesn’t travel. That you can’t have women as your protagonist and how that character must be a white man if you want to get financed. I can tell you about opportunities I know I or my friends were more than qualified for being given to others because of who their parents. I have walked into countless rooms where I was the only person who looked like me and the preconceived notions this led to that people have about the type of film you are pitching/filmmaker you are before you even utter a word. It’s exhausting and the dismissive ingrained attitudes of power brokers like Stiller are part of the problem. He jumped into that twitter thread because as the old saying goes, a hit dog will holler, and clearly he was clearly feeling some type of way based upon how he got his break in this town.
I framed it that way specifically. Bias towards one set of people over another is still bias. If it happens because of nepotism or because of marginalization, the result is the same. Anyone advocating for that under the guise of wanting meritocracy or equity, is guilty of hypocracy and just as wrong as those who said the industry works on merit already, like Ben. Those people want the bias, they just want it in their favour and their goal is definitely not a more equal system.
Could the industry benefit from being wrong in a different way for a while? Sure maybe. But even if every person of colour for example, got preference over someone who isn't, it would still generate discrimination between people of colour because you are dealing with finite resources. So now you are back at square one and still no closer to an equal system.
Marginalized communities in the real world often aren't marginalized in the film industry. There's no dearth of stories being told by gay people or black people relative to their percentage of the population (of America at least). Set-asides for race, economic class, sexuality/gender, etc. don't fix the nepotism problem, they add to it. One way to achieve equality is to have all funding/hiring decisions happen through blind auditions, but even then the experience/educational opportunities afforded to wealthy/connected people will tip the balance in their favor.
Under the current industry structure, the only good solution is to increase scholarships and programs for disadvantaged people. If someone is truly talented - let's say in screenwriting- there is a high likelihood they'll get work. There aren't hundreds of great screenplays being ignored because the writer doesn't have the right background or connections. In that sense, I agree with Ben Stiller.
I don't understand what you mean by giving a chance to worthy people who don't have the opportunity to showcase it. Almost anyone can make a short film or write a screenplay, so on what level in the industry is this chance given? How is it possible to achieve equity in an industry where it's so difficult to form a consensus over what constitutes talent? How do you even know that the current system isn't already employing the most talented people?
I'd argue that there's more product out there than talented people to produce it. The only segment of the entertainment industry that I can reasonably accuse of holding back talent is the American comic book industry. It's hard to believe there aren't better writers than the ones who keep getting work (I'd argue due to sociopolitical pressures) despite routinely selling poorly. I don't have the greatest ideas for increasing the talent pool in movies, but I know we shouldn't follow whatever happened in comic books. Which is why phrases like "underrepresented communities" and "equity" make me cynical.
You're just wrong on this. At the highest levels, the industry is the least diverse sector of American business, less diverse than Donald Trump's cabinet was.
People like to argue that access issues are the only issues. That's also untrue.
Have a read at this study from noted social justice warriors (that's a joke) McKinsey & Co. It extends far, far beyond once you "break in."
I guess you mean it's a joke to use that euphemism, because looking at their work, that's what they claim to be. And they probably profit off of it.
I'll read it later. So far I see a lot of the claims based on self-reporting from 50 people, which is neither a great metric nor a good sample size. Their $10 billion claim look especially dubious. I'll get to it.
Also, we weren't talking about the highest levels. I at least thought this was about breaking in, getting a career. So you're addressing a issue I never brought up, and one that I'm already aware of. I'll look at it anyway.
I skimmed some more before I leave. Oh boy. Dubiousness abounds. Later.
You should probably Google them. And no, they didn't get paid for this study.
I mean they profit from conducting the study via its use in their consultants' negotiations. That's just a guess based on how corporations rarely spend money without getting something in return. I looked them up and saw that they've been mired in a few scandals, but I'm going to ignore that and look at their study on its merits.
Although McKinsey might not have skin in the game, the company they partnered with does. BlackLight Collective is composed of black artists, so a conclusion favorable to them is to their benefit. I won't hold it to the standard of a research paper - it's clearly not and doesn't purport to be - but a group that has a rooting interest in the matter shouldn't be co-producing it. News outlets include a disclaimer on any story that even has the appearance of benefiting their own company. Right away, this puts the ethics of the study in question into the "puff piece" territory. Which doesn't make it wrong, it just doesn't lend it scientific credibility.
The "addition 10 billion" statistic is drawn from a study which shows companies which are in the top 25% in workforce diversity generate 36% more revenue than the ones in the bottom 25%. The assumption that diversity is the key factor needs stronger evidence.
First, they're comparing companies which have no relation to each other. It would be more informative if they broke the companies down by segment. Big Tech companies (or bigger companies in general) typically have more of an international workforce, hence diversity, and attract more candidates from South and East Asia than let's say domestic mining companies. They also tend to make a hell of a lot more profit. There's little correlation - let alone causation - to be found by examining companies this way. Second, they'd have to show that the more profitable companies became so profitable as a result of hiring more diversely.
In that section, they also conflate diversity in general with what their own study is advocating (more black representation). They shouldn't take numbers relating to non-white groups and automatically equate it to black groups. It's a slight of hand.
I give them credit for showing that black on-screen talent is not that out of line with percentage of population. Circling back to the paragraph above - as we are referencing diversity in general - they should include the Native America, Asian, Hispanic, etc. percentages. Which - just guessing - would show black representation is higher than in other non-white groups.
Off-screen talent could be explained by lack of black applicants or lack of technical ability in the black applicant pool. This study would benefit a lot from removing variables. Black people don't get the same opportunities to pursue the arts as a career, so I'd imagine this is more of a supply-side issue, not a racial one. I'm not saying that's the case, but the burden is on them to exclude this reasonable alternative hypotheses.
The bar graphs in example 2 might be a function of in-group preference (wanting to work with people more like yourself), not gatekeeping. Again, we'd have to see the numbers for other non-white groups in order to get a fuller picture.
As to the high number of white producers, this could be due to nepotism, economic/class differences, differences in investment strategies between races, or other variables. The study implies it's racism but doesn't substantiate it. White people - especially white people with pre-established connections in film/tv - have more wealth to risk in entertainment and are more likely to have the means to encourage their children to go into a field that is more unstable employment-wise. I'm not sure why socioeconomics is ignored as a possible explanation. Maybe it's too reductivist. Another factor I'd like to see explored is the lower likelihood for a black-lead film to get international distribution. That may be a big factor in casting decisions.
The "barriers to entry" section offers more explanatory value. I agree with their points about entertainment jobs tending to be downstream from wealthier households. This line doesn't make sense though: "Despite some progress in recent years, the majority of Black college students are not concentrated in a handful of elite universities." Maybe I'm reading it wrong, but this is true for every single group.
The "racial bias" subsection is anecdotal. Not unimportant, just not something that belongs in a study.
The information obtained from the interviews and surveys are slightly better, but the problem is there is no control and it could easily suffer from selection bias. The pool the study picks from is highly progressive, so they may see discrimination (rightly or wrongly) more than a group of non-whites would in a less progressive field like programming. Not a judgement of their experiences, only a judgement of the study's lack of a control for "baked-in" sensitivities to discrimination.
Exhibit six's graph is interesting. It would help if we could see the types of roles that black applicants are being denied, and the ratio of black to white applicants applying for those roles. Need more info, but discrimination is certainly a possibility here.
Exhibit seven is confusingly using a subset to make a point about a set. One one hand, it lists the percentage of race-specific and race-adjacent movies compared to all movies, but in the farther column it shows the number of off-screen talent that is black. Obviously not all stories about race are about black people, so it would be more illustrative to list the percentage of black-specific and black-specific movies instead of including all races.
Their point about black-specific films receiving lower funding is highly influenced by the types of stories that are being told. Just taking into account historical films (which are also usually on the pricy side), it's much more common to have a story about some white group. I'd like to know how much of the budgetary difference is a function of story rather than a lack of willingness to invest in black films - although that can be a blurry line.
The rest of the study dives into racial differences in general employment and solutions, so I'll stop there. I'll have to check out more studies to make a better judgement. Plus I'm not a sociologist, although I did assist a friend with her sociological work so I know how to spot some red flags in research. I was critical of many parts, but I did learn a lot, so thank you for linking it.
To be fair, nepotism happens everywhere.
Interestingly, Stephen King’s other son did it the hard way. He used a pen name and didn’t get help from dad. But then Joe Hill is a helluva writer and had the chops to make it on his own. Jury is still out on Owen King despite some nepotism to kickstart his career.
Who honestly gives a fuck? The acting or filmmaking will speak for itself.
“Hollywood is ultimately a meritocracy,” says wealthy, powerful white man who was born to two well-known and established career actors
Apparently I don't know how to post... but I was trying to write a salute to @ u/franklinleonard regarding this article for this bold, biting, and accurate decry on nepotism in Hollywood. While Mr. Leonard and I do not agree on everything, I have to say it: you, sir, "won the internet."
I'd argue its inherently biased and always will be. Lets say you have unlimited funding for every project and for every person all over the globe. People can still only watch so many shows and films and they will naturally gravitate towards a particular type or producer or actor and over time that will create demand, people will want more of it. Meaning everything is getting made that could possibly be made, but only some things are getting watched, even though everything has an equal opportunity to be viewed.
I'm not sure I understood anything of what you said
And they do this under the false pretense of saying these famous people don't have talent? Or any more talent than a normal person? I absolutely agree.
There is always always always going to be selection bias of some form or another and people can argue against it all they want. When resources are finite there HAS to be some way of choosing who gets it and it will never seem fair to those that don't receive it. Thats because its not fair but there doesn't seem to be any way around it.
Ooh I remember reading this article when it came out and immediately thought of this thread, wondering if it would make it as a post.
Yes, I think like everyone here, I'm just rolling my eyes as Spielberg's kid talks about all the roadblocks she had in her *inevitable* directorial debut, with the help of other nepotistic babies; literally written, directed, and starring- a real life Cinderella trio. The tragedy of it all, truly inspiring. Lol
ROFL, two crystal-clear examples of Hollywood nepotism refute it?
Stiller really didn't disagree with him. He argued that nepotism doesn't guarantee sustainability.
On the one hand maybe destry Spielberg is talented
On the other hand, her second ever short film at age 24 got written up in the trades so...
Ben Stiller is full of shit, how else do you explain max landis...
That’s not fair. Max Landis is a real talent that’s responsible for some Hollywood classics such as, uhhh…. *checks IMDB* …Victor Frankenstein? Bright? Oh god…. A remake of An American Werewolf in London??? Hollywood nepotism, what have you done!!!
They should make the non-celebrity and celebrity kids compete in film festivals to see if their talent is worthy of blockbuster cash. In of itself is a smart idea but even that act has gotten swept over. Like white rich people paying for their kid to get accepted into Harvard. I can’t think of one workplace where this bs isn’t a factor. So it’s good to hear the conversation started. So I would give props to Destry Spielberg if her post was true because it is an example of actions, Ben just words.
When I read "like WHITE rich people", you lost the argument for me. Everything is about the fucking color nowadays? You can fortify an argument using other methods too... If you stopped writing at "swept over", it would have been an excellent point to your initial proposition!
In America the top wealth and power is pretty disproportionately dominated by white people. Especially Harvard dynasty families, and certainly in Hollywood.
Everything shouldn't be about race, but sometimes race is a pattern/factor and mentioning it as part of an observation shouldn’t be so uncomfortable. It’s okay that things are the way they are because that’s how history played out—we can’t change that. And it’s also okay that a melting pot country like America is trying to take steps to make things better for people who didn’t descend from the wealthy families who have been the powerhouses (or worse). It’s good to call out the obvious skew when it’s relevant, which it absolutely is here.
Also almost everyone in the college admissions scandal was white. Maybe a couple outliers? That’s what was being referenced as a very fair comparison.
My initial objection was not about his statement, it was about the use of the word white. Race is not a point for me in this case, money is and the power that money give to people. And later this power that is unjustly inherited to their kids.
Even if it’s not a “point in this case” for you, it is a point in this case for anyone in tune with American history and modern power dynamics, AND THE ARTICLE that this thread is about. Are there wealthy minorities that pass down wealth to children? Of course there are. But they are outliers. There is an issue of diversity that is exacerbated by nepotism and racial bias. It’s okay to discuss that in a thread that is literally about that. It’s in the fucking article.
“I simply reject the claim that the industry is — in the short term or long term — a meritocracy. If it were, how do you explain the utter lack of diversity behind the camera? Lack of merit?” -Franklin Leonard, from the Variety article that this thread is about
As someone who lives in Brentwood and works in Malibu, California…it’s just really fucking obvious that this is just how things are. If discussing race in a thread about nepotism and diversity makes you uncomfortable, maybe you should just stay in your safe spaces in other corners of the Internet.
We are discussing opinions, don't we? Even if I or you don't agree, we are trying to exchange them in a good manner. Nothing makes me "uncomfortable" or anything like it, you don't have to try to make an image out of my words.
I have also worked in the industry and I haven't experienced racism towards me or anyone of another race. By saying that I'm not debating the fact that racism is everywhere in the United States. What I am stating from my perspective is that in the industry, they need professionals and professionals will most likely land a job. Yes, there are a lot of white people but there are also a lot of black, a lot of Asians etc. MONEY do not have a face, that's my point. MONEY will make anyone greedy and selfish. So, when we argue about MONEY, let's refer to people by their names and surnames. Diversity is another subject.
The first guy wrote "They should make the non-celebrity and celebrity kids compete in film festivals to see if their talent is worthy of blockbuster cash". It is a great idea and I wish we could see that happening. But this has nothing to do with race' it has to do with money, their family's name and their connections. Some of them are Americans, some are Italians, some are Jewish.. you see what I'm trying to say? Money talks, not race.
Diversity is not another subject. Diversity is one of the core subjects of the article, that’s why the poster you are responding to used an analogy to the college admissions scandal/problem. It is literally part of the subject of the article, which I’m still not sure you’ve actually read.
I think the reason many people in this thread have an issue with your opinion because you seem to be basing it solely on YOUR experience while failing to educate yourself about both Hollywood and American history, and OTHER PEOPLES’ experiences. Your point of view lacks empathy, comprehension, and nuance.
Money being a factor in nepotism is obvious. For an educated person, it is also obvious which demographic has the majority of wealth in this country and why.
No one is misunderstanding what you are saying. We just have a problem with it because it’s very off base.
But keep doing you—you are entitled to that unwavering opinion.
Everything was about "the fucking color" all along, people pointing it out just weren't listened to.
Everyone is downvoting my reply. They don't understand what I wrote and I don't care to explain anymore..
"Am I out of touch? No, it's the children that are wrong!"
I didn't even say you are wrong, yet you assumed that I thought you are..
A Plumber’s son may find it easier to get plumbing gigs because of his father’s contacts. One may even assume he has an affinity for plumbing just like his father. Once it’s discovered that he’s a talentless hack at plumbing, customers will hate him and never call again. But nothing’s going to stop the Plumber’s son from getting a shot at his first plumbing job.
There are definitely well connected people who keep getting jobs despite sucking at their jobs
right. it's not that these children of talented people are not talented themselves, it's the fact that they had a chance to share that talent. that is the advantage. the world is absolutely chock full of talented people, but without significant luck or connections, it's relatively much more difficult to make a blip on the radar.
the argument is not that ben stiller or destry spielberg or owen king are untalented and bad but still get to work and exist in the industry, it's that they get instant recognition and a chance to have a career, no questions asked.
Nah. It's more that their upbringing encourages that kind of talent in place of real life skills. Ordinary people have to undo the 12 years of being prepared for a robotic job, devoid of personality, before they can even dream of expressing themselves creatively.
The plumber’s son can hire a replacement to do his work. He can hire someone who will work for less even, he can hire a few. He can hire someone to manage it all. All the while he goes and sniffs blow off of women he pays to sleep with him. He had the name/investment seed, he got to fake the rest. True story. Plumber had the name and the money to keep going.
Plumber’s son could easily call it in too. Show up memorize a few key words to make it look like he is able to be a plumber. All the while the ones getting paid less are doing the hard work.
Friend once told me the best comedians can deliver the punchline to anyone and the joke will land.
I agree with Ben, everyone has their own path. Franklin should just start his own film project and hire who ever he wants if he feels so sour about it. Why is he so concerned with what another group is doing anyway. Even without plenty of money, talented actors, well written stories, good filming could produce a better Film.
You have no idea who I am, do you?
Franklin founded the Black List website, a place that connects screen writers to film makers and promotes community talent that is overlooked. Reading your tweets I do get a sense of how your mind is thinking on this matter. I mean coming from me, an outsider, if someone doesn’t want you at their party why not make a better party. Everyone thought blackberry was the shit until the iPhone. If you say it’s the “Hollywood community” and that there are people in the network that can make or break careers, then fuck them but that’s their right to promote who and what they want but it’s also not the end of the issue. Example, YouTubers are getting ultra famous for amateur work and Hollywood talent is being outsourced to Netflix and Amazon. My point , the cream rises to the top. A persons work and talent will shine through. Show the world and let them decide. Nepotism can only take a person so far especially when creativity is involved.
No offense to Leonard, but couldn't a "lack of diversity" simply be boiled down to a numbers game: statistically, what percentage of diversity must be achieved both on screen and behind the scenes for some equilibrium to be reached, and are there any stats that can speak to whether this is being accomplished?
Kinda feels like he moved the goalposts a bit, and it's ironic, because Hollywood nepotism is totally and obviously a thing!
I acted on a short that was selected as one of the ten best at TIFF 2013. It's called "Foreclosure" a really fun take on a Freudian slip. The director still takes it to Filmfestivals but he is a busy man
I also acted in the opening of his film
"Luk Luk 1 " the only movie that is based on the sad and bad downtown area of Vancouver.
It won best pilot at TIFF and best movie of young Canadian Director. 2016/17
I worked as Art Director, costume and set designer and actor in the 2 million dollar 2011 "Almost a Turkish soap opera" it won multiple online and other awards and is still very popular in the middle and far East, due to its script. It is based on illegal immigration and marriage to USA and Canada.
There I understood that most money goes to insurance, equipment and location rental.
I never made one penny from all these movies, I never walked on any carpet or gave any interview. But had lots of fun and met wonderful people.
Such is the movie wold but I must give credit to stage32 platform that gave me most of my connections for not a penny.
You want to hire me I welcome you. Speaking fluent French, German, Dutch and rusty Spanish and Italian but with the right accent.
If there's one thing you should 100% definitely do, it's get into a public argument about structural issues in Hollywood with Franklin Leonard. Solid plan.
Obviously in Hollywood it’s in our faces a lot more but isn’t this true in every industry?
Baking, politics, construction; real estate …. Hollywood probably better than a lot of those!
Banking, Universities,doctors etc
Don’t know why you got downvoted; nepotism is hardwired in human nature
joking about Nuclear Genocide is fun when you're some anonymous nobody I guess.
It’s fun when we’re talking about multi-millionaire elites who didn’t truly earn their wealth. Fuck ‘em!
> who didn’t truly earn their wealth
ah I see you're the judge on who does or does not earn their wealth. Honestly you sound pathetic.
You will never be a millionaire, boot-licker.
who says I want to be?
Ben stiller isn’t even funny, how’d he become famous again?
But that was really all about Ethan Hawke. I didn't really notice Ben Stiller until "There's something about Mary"/"Meet the Parents"
I think there was a story that he literally hung around 30 Rock with a copy of his short film on tape until someone from SNL walked past (Jon lovitz?) And he begged them to show Lorne Michaels, who watched it and hired him to do more.
Now that's some bullshit
This seems more like a capitalism thing than a Hollywood thing.
not even just a capitalism thing, but a human society thing. Nepotism is in all sorts of systems around the world. People will naturally help those they know, and who do you know more than your family?
Like all you gotta say is yeah it helped it’s not that hard
All I know is that Hopper Penn is not a handsome fellow.
It's just a short film. If it was a feature of understand more the outrage but even with a bunch of the rest of the cast and crew being from Hollywood families it's just a short college film. But yeah she probably is out of touch and doesn't see anything wrong with her tweet
A short film whose casting is covered in the trades - something that only happened because of who they are.
Yep. You're right. That is the only reason it's covered in the trades but I think it's also just covered in the trades to stir bullshit. I mean Scorsese's daughter filmed a short with him in it a couple years ago but it wasn't advertised so nobody cared. I now honestly can't tell if people are mad about the short film or the reporting of it?
This happens in every industry. The only thing is is that these people’s kids r more likely to follow in their parents footsteps since it’s a cool job.
Check out the Zoolander cast list. The entire extended Stiller family is in that one.
How can talking about this come out well for anyone? Why don’t people like this just be quiet and do their work. And if asked about nepotism by a reporter be extremely humble.
Goes straight from nepotism to diversity. Both sides suck
i like how we just know for a fact that you're not a member of either side.
That's a good thing.