The only constant in entertainment is change. Industry veterans understand that dramatic pivots in the way that Hollywood does business are the only thing that can be counted upon. But recent shifts have veteran writers concerned. Part of this has to do with the WGA‘s requirement that new members “check boxes” to identify themselves so that this data may be used in the hiring process. A recent open letter to the Writers Guild of America, written by a WGA member, is saying out loud what so many in the industry fear to say. And that is that radical voices have taken hold in Hollywood and are more concerned with pushing ideology and messaging rather than entertaining an audience.
As a result, the money generated by the industry has seen a remarkably noticeable drop. The rise of the term “flop buster” (in response to so many films like Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny underperforming at the box office) seems to be directly related to mainstream audiences’ wholesale rejection of the over-messaging they see hijacking entertainment. Not to mention the destruction of intellectual property that normally performed successfully with fans. Box office receipts for films like The Marvels, among others, have writers questioning the wisdom of pushing identity/”the message” over storytelling with a broad appeal.
“…’male and pale is stale’ is driving the type of films and TV shows that get made…”
The mainstream industry trades have yet to weigh in on this open letter. However, the story has resulted in a flood of emails sent to Film Threat. These correspondences paint a picture of an industry where fear of speaking out could result in one being “blacklisted” as problematic. You must adhere to this new ideology or face the prospect of unemployment forever. A phrase we heard over and over again is this: “male and pale is stale.” If one were to reword this statement another way, it may result in accusations of racism. But this view is widely accepted all over Hollywood. Like a mantra, “male and pale is stale” is driving the types of films and TV shows that get made.
What industry outsiders may not understand is that Hollywood is a freelance business where work is scarce and in the current day, one must constantly demonstrate allegiance to specific ideals or face the prospect of never working. The fear is palpable and a dominant force hanging over the heads of those who wish to simply make a living working in entertainment.
These emails sent to Film Threat have been edited to protect the identities of those who wish to speak out, all of which requested to remain anonymous. The letters came from Emmy and Oscar-nominated talents working at various levels in the industry. Additionally, letters that were repetitive or simply echoed points already stated have been left out.
What follows are emails sent to Film Threat in response to the open letter to the WGA. Draw whatever conclusions you wish, but one thing is certain – Hollywood is changing and many feel it may not be for the best.
If you are a WGA member or work in the industry and have a story to tell or something to add and would like to share your story, on or off the record, contact us.