THE SHAPE(S) OF MONSTER: Privileged kid gets her feelings hurt!


Part 1—The Times feeds our longing for Villain:
Hooray for Sillywood!

A monster movie has walked off with Oscar's top prize for the year. It was truly a movie which suits the age—an age with a longing for Monster.

As the week proceeds, we'll discuss that ongoing longing for Monster. Today, we'll start with a near relation. We'll start with the longing for Villain.

Over the weekend, this longing surfaced atop page one of the New York Times' Sunday Review. From one of the newspaper's highest platforms, the Times gave us a story by a privileged kid who seems to have had her feelings hurt.

At least as presented, the youngster's story doesn't seem to make sense. But who cares! She started her story in the best tribal manner, by feeding our longing for Villain.

The youngster in question is Minhal Baig, "a writer and director." Baig is five years out of Yale (class of 2012), and when her story begins in the Times, she's actually eighteen months younger!

Her story begins in 2016. As you can see, her presentation of Villain comes fast:
BAIG (3/4/18): About 18 months ago, an executive at a cable network asked for a meeting with me. I’d written and directed a short film about a Muslim teenager that had found an audience on the internet, so I was feeling especially confident. The executive and I spoke about my upbringing and how I made the film. Then he asked about what I wanted to do there, at his network. I’m a writer and a director, but for the purposes of that meeting, I needed to be clear: I want to direct for television.

The tenor of the conversation shifted. He said that breaking into the field would be very difficult, and that I should consider a diversity program—a “shadowing” program for directors without television experience who come from backgrounds that are generally underrepresented in Hollywood. The goal would be to gain a practical understanding of a set, and an opportunity to make connections.

I was taken aback. He had asked for this meeting. I felt, suddenly, that he did not see me as a filmmaker ready to take on television but as a woman of color who needed a “program”
so that, one day, I might be really ready.I blurted out, “I don’t believe these programs teach you how to direct,” and he immediately backpedaled. Of course, he said, that’s not what he was saying. He was just trying to be helpful.
As you can see, our story seems to start in September 2016. Baig is four years out of Yale. "An executive at a cable network" is instantly offered, feeding our longing for Villain.

Let's review what we know so far, with a few extra facts thrown in:

In September 2016, Baig was four years out of Yale. She had produced one "short film...that had found an audience on the internet."

We'd put the emphasis on "short." In fact, the film in question was 14 minutes long. By our reckoning, this works out to three and a half minutes of film per year, post-college.

Let's state the obvious. The short film in question may have been a very good short film. At any rate, on the basis of this first effort, a cable executive had asked for a meeting with Baig.

A cable executive asked for a meeting. As if in some sort of Onion parody, she tells him she wants to direct!

Baig wanted to direct for the executive's cable network. At this point, the cable executive is revealed to us as the figure who will feed our prehuman longing for Villain.

Darn that cable executive! Instead of letting our young Yale grad seize control of his network, he makes a type of suggestion—a type of suggestion which may or may not seem unwise or offensive in any number of ways.

(It might also seem like a great opportunity, like a bit of a gift. But let's not think about that.)

Good lord! Despite her 14 minutes of film, our Villain suggests that our Heroine should enter a type of mentoring program with an established director, giving her additional experience, and knowledge of the way things work.

The complication seems to arise when we're told that this particular mentoring program is a "diversity program"—a program for types of people who "are generally underrepresented in Hollywood."

As such, this sounds like a type of "affirmative action" program—"affirmative action" of a type liberals have generally endorsed. But because our Heroine was already an established master of film-making, she takes offense at this idea, and strides off to sulk in her tents.

Let's be fair! Already, our longing for Villain is being satisfied, in a pleasing way. That said, was there actually something wrong with what our Villain did?

A sensible person might well respond as the young superstar did. A sensible person might be offended by the idea that she was being viewed in terms of her ethnicity and gender, as seems to have been the case, at least as the story's been told.

A sensible person might bristle at being viewed in that way. Then too, a sensible person might ask a question like this:

Suppose a young "white male," four years out of Yale, had produced 14 minutes of promising film. Why shouldn't he gain access to a mentoring program too? A sensible person could even have that reaction to this type of "diversity program!"

Whatever! As the story has been told, our young Yale grad—presumably, she's 25 or 26—has refused the offer of a mentoring program. And sure enough! As her story proceeds, the inevitable triumph quickly occurs:
BAIG (continuing directly): That was then. Last October, I was location scouting in Chicago for my feature film, “Hala,” based on my short film. The news about Harvey Weinstein had just come out. Inside the scout van, I saw the #MeToo movement taking shape online. Every day, it seemed, there were new allegations of sexual misconduct being brought against prominent men in entertainment — actors, agents, producers. Every day, a new name was trending on Twitter. Police reports were being filed. Women were bravely taking their stories to the media. For the first time, the ugly truth of our business was being exposed.

When I returned to Los Angeles at the end of the year to edit the film, the atmosphere felt different. In January, the red carpet conversation at the Golden Globe Awards shifted from self-promotion to heartfelt expressions of solidarity. Natalie Portman’s introduction to the best director award announcement—“Here are the all-male nominees”—became a viral moment, and Time’s Up, a movement founded to fight sexual harassment and inequity, burst onto the scene in full force.

Meanwhile, I had 10 weeks to edit a feature-length film. I lost a lot of sleep, missed a trip to Japan and a friend’s wedding in Mexico. These are the things one does when making a movie. But even as sheltered as I was during the edit, I could see a palpable difference in how women in Hollywood were talking to one another. Male friends and colleagues also had to stop and think harder about the imbalances of power in the industry, and their own possible role in perpetuating them.
Sure enough! Thirteen months later, our young star is scouting locations in her native Chicago for her forthcoming feature film, which is based on those earlier fourteen minutes. By December, she was editing her film, and the climate in Tinseltown had changed, "imbalance of power"-wise.

Might we inject a tiny thought at this point? This particular youngster doesn't exactly strike us as the wretched of the earth.

In the ten weeks during which she edited her film, she says she missed 1) a trip to Japan and 2) a trip to Mexico for a friend's wedding.

Does this young genius know how "privileged" this information may make her seem? There is no sign that she knows this at all! We humans may tend to be like that.

That said, let's return to the endless longing for Villain, even for Monster.

Had Baig's story ended here, we would have a pleasing tale of triumph of the will:

Out in Tinseltown, a highly condescending Villain had tried to undermine a young genius. The youngster refused to be compromised. Inevitably, her genius emerged.

For better or worse, Baig's report in the New York Times didn't end at that point. Much later on, this passage appears, and her story, at least as presented, seems to stop making sense:
BAIG: I did end up doing a diversity program after all, through Ryan Murphy’s Half foundation. I shadowed an incredible director on “American Horror Story,” who taught me so much about the practical realities of filmmaking on a bigger scale, staying on schedule, and working with established talent and collaborators. She ended up endorsing me for membership in the Directors Guild of America—whose director membership is only 15 percent female. The numbers are much worse for women of color.

Armed with this experience, I had a second meeting with the executive who had suggested a diversity program. Everything about this meeting felt essentially the same as the first, except there were two female executives in the room this time. I told them: Now that I’ve done this program, I can say with confidence that I don’t believe in separate pipelines. White men don’t have to go through diversity programs to get jobs, so why should anyone else? Men are frequently hired because of potential, while women are hired based on their previous experience.

As I talked to these executives, I thought about how important it is now for women to speak up about harassment, lost opportunities, and to fight for what they’re worth. From an outside perspective, that might appear selfish. So more women get writing and directing opportunities — what will that change for other women? The answer is that it changes everything.
Say what? As it turns out, Baig did go into a mentoring program. Indeed, it was a "diversity program," like the offensive program she's earlier rejected.

If the Villain's suggestion was so offensive, why did Baig enter this program? Baig doesn't explain, but she seems to have gained a great deal from the experience.

"I shadowed an incredible director on 'American Horror Story,' who taught me so much about the practical realities of filmmaking on a bigger scale," she says. These practical realities include such things as "staying on schedule, and working with established talent and collaborators."

Baig had entered the very type of program which had cast that network executive as a pleasing Villain! Triumphantly, she now meets with the Villain again—and she tells him that, despite all she had gained from the mentoring program, she had been right all along!

Women need to speak up, this highly privileged young monster goes on to say. While strongly agreeing with that point, we would add this thought:

Women, and men, and all living things, need to try to make sense when discussing important topics. They may even need to stop beating the bushes for Villain and Monster. But they need to say things which make sense.

That rarely happens in the Times, a newspaper which has functioned like a bit of a monster over the past thirty years. In particular, it didn't happen when some editor at the Times waved Baig's piece into print, at least in the way its puzzling story was told.

In fairness, Baig's piece makes sense in one major way—it feeds our longing for Villain. We got our Villain in paragraph one, though he was part of a story which ended up not making a whole lot of sense.

Baig may turn out to be a superb film-maker. That said, the New York Times is routinely a comically awful newspaper, especially in some of its history-changing selections of Monster.

This Sunday's network executive was just a Villain, not a Monster. That said, explain if you can:

In the current jumbled instance, what did this Villain, for whom we long, do which was actually wrong? Does anyone have the slightest idea after reading the Times' latest tale?

Tomorrow: "He isn't a monster," she said


  1. Even though the prose of this Biag person is nauseating to read, I must say: I like her attitude.

    Yes, the time has come to expand #metoo to cover everything that could make women feel "offended". Yes, Siree Bob! How many more must die?

  2. If I were searching for a villain, I need look no further than Somerby. He mocks a young person working hard to achieve her goals and encountering obstacles. He mocks her because she is supposedly "privileged," as if there is something wrong with her life and her attitude if she is not grateful to be her instead of wishing for success.

    "We'd put the emphasis on "short." In fact, the film in question was 14 minutes long. By our reckoning, this works out to three and a half minutes of film per year, post-college."

    This bit of mockery is just plain stupid. Commercials are short yet directors of them are paid plenty and are respected in their field. TV shows can be short, a half hour. With commercial breaks not much longer than Baig's "short" film. You don't judge the merit of a film by its length.

    But Somerby only wants to mock, not understand. The appropriate job for someone in this person's position in life is Assistant Director, not gopher, not intern, not diversity program shadow. She isn't asking to start at the top. She is asking for the same position that would be offered someone male, with her experience. Instead of understanding that, Somerby calls her privileged because she has a friend who is marrying in another country.

    We could debate whether being an ass makes someone a villain. But Somerby's reaction exemplifies the problem for women in every industry. Shut up and enjoy what you have. Stop asking to be treated like a real "director and editor" (why the quotes?) and enjoy your diversity programs where you get to watch what the real directors do. Stop making silly short films and pretending you are any kind of success in a competitive field that you wouldn't be trying to enter if you weren't so privileged as to think you belong there.

    What an ass Somerby is today.

    1. Spielberg started this way too. Making short films. Except his grades weren't good enough for a top college. Does that make him a better person?

      From Wikipedia:

      "While still a student, he was offered a small unpaid intern job at Universal Studios with the editing department.[25][26] He was later given the opportunity to make a short film for theatrical release, the 26-minute, 35mm, Amblin', which he wrote and directed. Studio vice president Sidney Sheinberg was impressed by the film, which had won a number of awards, and offered Spielberg a seven-year directing contract. It made him the youngest director ever to be signed for a long-term deal with a major Hollywood studio.[14]:548 He subsequently dropped out of college to begin professionally directing TV productions with Universal.[27][28] Spielberg later returned to Cal State Long Beach and completed his BA degree in Film and Electronic Arts in 2002."

    2. Here is a privileged career:

      Scorsese went to NYU film school, made several short films and a feature-length film while there. He became friends with influential people who helped his career.

      From Wikipedia:

      "Scorsese became friends with the influential "movie brats" of the 1970s: Brian De Palma, Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg.[7] It was Brian De Palma who introduced Scorsese to Robert De Niro. During this period he worked as the assistant director and one of the editors on the documentary Woodstock (1970) and met actor–director John Cassavetes, who would also go on to become a close friend and mentor."

      No diversity programs for him. No unpaid internships either.

    3. In contrast, here is the brief write up of the career of Martha Coolidge from Wikipedia:

      "Coolidge studied illustration at Rhode Island School of Design, but changed majors, becoming the first film major at the school. She earned her MFA from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. Later in Los Angeles she studied acting and other aspects of her craft with Lee Strasberg, Stella Adler, Joanne Baron, and David Craig.


      Coolidge first made her reputation by directing many award-winning documentaries in New York City. While in New York, she helped found the Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers (AIVF) and the IFP.

      She moved to Hollywood in 1976 and spent several years as a part of the Zoetrope Studio created by Francis Ford Coppola. Her feature-length directorial debut, Not a Pretty Picture, was based on a date rape she suffered at age 16.[2] Her breakthrough film was the independently produced Valley Girl (1983), which is now best remembered for launching the career of Nicolas Cage. It also helped the popularity of the British band Modern English's hit song I Melt with You. Her film Rambling Rose (1991) won three IFP Independent Spirit Awards for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Supporting Actress for Diane Ladd, and earned Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for Ladd and Laura Dern (Best Actress). Rambling Rose was well reviewed and made many top ten lists for the year. Despite a limited release hampered by economic problems suffered by the production company, the film played for months without advertising and earned many honors."

      Her films routinely won awards but she didn't get the major studio contracts, the distribution and support, or the chance to direct studio feature films like her male counterparts. Maybe because she didn't make movies about sharks. She did help other people's careers though, like bands and various actors. No doubt she is glad to have helped out. Somerby would probably think she was privileged too.

    4. Mira Nair attended Harvard and then made documentaries. Her first film was 18 minutes long.

      According to Wikipedia:

      "In 2007, Nair was asked to direct Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, but turned it down to work on The Namesake.[3] Based on the book by Pulitzer Prize-winner Jhumpa Lahiri, Sooni Taraporevala’s screenplay follows the son of Indian immigrants who wants to fit in with New York society, but struggles to get away from his family’s traditional ways. The film was presented with the Dartmouth Film Award and was also honored with the Pride of India award at the Bollywood Movie Awards.[7][8]

      In 2012 Nair directed The Reluctant Fundamentalist, a thriller based on the best-selling novel by Mohsin Hamid. It opened the 2012 Venice Film Festival to critical acclaim and was released worldwide in early 2013.

      Nair's 2016 Queen of Katwe, a Walt Disney Pictures production, starred Lupita Nyong'o and David Oyelowo and was based on the story of Ugandan chess prodigy Phiona Mutesi."

      She established her own production company and now in her 60s is an adjunct professor at Columbia University. No diversity programs for her, although she is an activist and has established programs to help street children in India and young people who wish to pursue film in Uganda.

    5. “Her breakthrough film was the independently produced Valley Girl (1983), which is now best remembered for launching the career of Nicolas Cage.”

      That alone should get her blacklisted.

    6. So, it is reasonable for a young filmmaker to expect that if her short film is attracting favorable attention it is time for her to start working on real films, especially if the studio calls her and not vice versa. That is how these other directors started. NOT with diversity programs. With opportunities to work and make contacts and get their work to the public. It is not privileged to expect that opportunity after training.

    7. You make one short film and the appropriate thing is for the head of a cable network to give you a job as a assistant director?

      The problem with that is the director that she's assisting would probably prefer someone who has experience. No?

      Under the scenario you present, the director gets an assistant that by her own admission doesn't understand many things about the practical realities of filmmaking on a bigger scale.

      Can't you see that that would be a horrible situation for the director? And a studio head or cable TV head is not going to give a director an assistant that doesn't even understand practical realities of the craft? Are they? They would not be doing their job well if they were to do something like that.

      But in your fantasy, she's ready to grab a clipboard and a headset and to AD the big show. It's the appropriate thing!

      I think you may be a little like she seems to be. A little bit young and dumb. No offense.

    8. Also a little bit spoiled and out of touch. Over privileged. Out of touch. Really out of touch. Don't worry you'll be exposed to the real world soon enough.

    9. You are assuming facts not in evidence: (1) she has only ever made one short film; (2) other Assistant Directors know all this stuff that she supposedly doesn't despite having made a film herself and graduated film school; (3) the guy interviewing her knew what she did and didn't know when he suggested the diversity diversion program.

      A rule of thumb in business is that you need to be 50% qualified for the job you get hired to do and will learn the other 50% on the job. That is what everyone else does. Why should it be 100% for women?

    10. You can't run straight to race and gender if you are 3 years out of college and go to Hollywood and don't get exactly what you want. Sometimes a duck is just a duck. She needed more experience. She didn't even realize it at first but she did. And who knows, she may be kind of an asshole. Maybe her ideas suck. Maybe they're great. Maybe she has bad breath. White guys who have a short film under their belt but have bad breath and are assholes don't get anointed with prime jobs either. And I can tell you one thing for sure. You are going to be in big trouble if you come to Hollywood out of college with a short film and expect to be treated like Martin Scorsese. The point is you can't run directly to race and gender in these situations. There's all sorts of other factors that can be sliced and diced when putting together the reasons for things like the suggestion the network guy made.

    11. Yes Junior,I'm assuming other assistant directors have experience with the Practical realities of filmmaking on a big scale if they are making films on a big scale. Haha.

    12. How do assistant directors become directors? Someone takes a chance of them. That's also how film school graduates with short films become assistant directors. But who takes a chance on someone they don't think is qualified because they cannot imagine a woman in that role (no matter how good other people think her short film is)?

      The problem isn't that women are not qualified. It is that men cannot imagine them being sufficiently qualified. And there are always other men around to fill those jobs because it is a competitive field. And we get more car chases and monster movies and fewer dramas because men don't like anything that makes them feel anything. And La La Land gets made over and over and The Revenant doesn't win Best Picture, because not enough people get shot and nothing blows up. And we are all poorer because only guys get to make films, tough guys like Tarantino and Scorsese. Even Spielberg doesn't know how to write or film real emotion so we get schmaltz set during WWII because other boys resonate to him still playing with toy soldiers on screen.

    13. She wasn't qualified. The woman in this case. You can see an interview with her on YouTube and there is no way in hell anyone would put her as an AD on any kind of shoot with the budget. She's still a child. Like you. She admits yourself of the time there were many things she did not know about the practical realities of shooting on a large scale. Go fuck yourself. You're a fucking crybaby moron.

    14. And despite Perry’s conclusion (for the seemingly billionth time by someone here) that Bob is an ass, Perry will never stop reading Bob’s blog and babbling on about his reactions to it. (Does that make him an ass whisperer?)

      But despite the endless problems he finds with Bob’s writing, Perry will never go. For Bob is Perry’s Villain and Monster rolled into one.

    15. Ad hominem because you won’t discuss the topic at hand.

    16. @10:55 I’ll bet you haven’t seen her film, which is the best evidence of her skill, not how she comes across to you on Youtube.

    17. Believe me, no one will be hiring her to AD even a shampoo commercial. Young rich princesses are not cut out for that. SHE wouldn't want to AD either! Haha. You're a fucking idiot faggot cunt. Go fuck your mother.

  3. Somerby thinks women seek out monsters. We don't have to do that. They find us.

    1. Is it really impossible that both things happen?

    2. Yes, because if you deal with a few unsolicited monsters you don’t need any more in your life.

  4. I take issue with the idea that kids who attend Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Princeton etc. are automatically privileged. Maybe in his day but these days such kids work hard to get the grades to get in, attend on scholarship and loans, and work very hard to graduate. Applicants come from many areas of the country and socio-economic strata and are not necessarily from privileged families. Yes, they get a good launching but it seems to me they also earn it.

  5. Somerby's advice to young female fledgling director: "Tone down that attitude, Missy. You should defer to your (male) elders in the biz."

    Even though attitude, and self-confidence, might be helpful in breaking through in Hollywood, one would imagine.

    Was Somerby ever a young female? Did he have a successful career in Hollywood? "Thanks for the advice...", one imagines Ms Baig saying.

    And did we mention that Ms Baig is young and went to Yale? Uh oh. Potential dumb, useless liberal in the making, always seeing or seeking monsters everywhere.

    Meanwhile, the teacher's strike in West Virginia ends after 13 days, with not a single mention from Somerby, who cares about education...and liberal causes. (?)

    1. Dave the Guitar PlayerMarch 6, 2018 at 12:31 PM

      Since this is a blog specifically about media, what was it exactly about the media coverage of the West Virginia teacher's strike that you think Bob should have commented on?

    2. It's a blog about "media?" Nope, not exclusively. Somerby constantly talks about "liberals", calling them dumb, immoral, etc. I can cite dozens of such quotes if you'd like. He says "we" don't know how to talk to "The Others." That's nothing if not a political observation. It doesn't just refer to the "media."
      He has constantly cited articles in the press about education, only to state that liberals don't care about education. Yet, there has been constant press coverage of the teacher's strike, coverage that Somerby ignored. Does his ignoring of it mean he found nothing objectionable about the coverage? The next time he says "liberals don't care about education" will you nod your head in agreement, even after he misses a hugely important story, one which arguably disproves his stupid meme that liberals don't care about education? If his blog is about the "media", then why would he expend so much effort on an op-ed piece by a relatively unknown filmmaker, and post after post about Shape of Water, a movie. Somerby himself has constantly decried the trivialization of our culture, and yet he chooses to spend an inordinate amount of time discussing relatively trivial things. Do you remember how many posts he did examining Hollywood movies of the 1950's and their supposed theme of old geezers dating teenagers?

      Here's a quote:
      "A nation’s discourse is largely defined by the topics that don’t get discussed"
      --Bob Somerby, MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2011

      I would suggest that this blog's discourse is largely defined by the topics that don’t get discussed.

    3. Dave, your broken-record act is getting tiresome.

      This blog's scope is wider than "specifically about media" and I, for one, am glad that it is. It's awfully weak for you to rebut nearly every comment you don't like with that assertion, especially when it's not true.

    4. Dave the Guitar PlayerMarch 7, 2018 at 1:37 PM

      The fact that this blog is not moderated is what makes it wider than just about the media. Commenters use it to spin off in every direction, regardless of what Bob actually said in his posts. I can see where you might enjoy the opportunity to offer your opinions about the various issues of the day, but I don't see any of that as constructive, especially when the comments criticize Bob for not addressing the issues you want to talk about. Go ahead and talk about whatever it is that you care about, but don't expect Bob (or I) to care what you think.

    5. I'm not the commenter at 12:00 and 1:12. I am the commenter you snidely and patronizingly responded to.

      The fact that you are compelled to respond in this manner belies your "Bob and I don't care" bullshit.

      My comment to you in a post yesterday ("Dave: credit where credit's due."), forget it. You're not worth it. You're a pompous ass.

  6. Apparently, the Howler for today's Daily Howler is that young filmmaker Minhal Baig had "her feelings hurt", and our "press corps" had the temerity to print her opinion piece, thus continuing their tradition of creating monsters, just like they did to Al Gore or are now doing to Trump and The Others. Or something.

    Ms Baig had no idea she was being used as a pawn to further the press guild's nefarious schemes.

  7. Why shouldn't your feelings be hurt if you are passed over for opportunities that are given to others, especially if you are equally talented and have accomplished what they have?

  8. Why wouldn't a recent graduate of film school with a well received short film in hand want to direct something on tv and why wouldn't such a graduate be taken at least semi-seriously? I must be missing something.

    1. Suggesting a mentoring program IS being taken seriously.
      Getting a job directing feature films can take even the most privileged white guy years of lucky breaks. Yes, there is a boatload of discrimination and misogyny in the business, but there are also far fewer openings than people who want them.

    2. Somerby doesn't care about misogyny or discrimination. He only cares about the press coverage of misogyny and discrimination.

    3. There is a difference between a "mentoring" program and a "diversity" program. The latter is intended to get an organization off the hook with diversity auditors. The former is designed to identify and nurture talent. Diversity programs can stigmatize a person by identifying them as "token" and underqualified. It is sad, but sometimes it works that way. Members of minority groups are right to be suspicious of the motives of someone sending them towards such a program.

    4. Lonnie, let me introduce you to Jugdish... oh you know each other? Good, then you'll have lots to talk about together.

  9. "She started her story in the best tribal manner, by feeding our longing for Villain."

    This right here shows that Somerby isn't just doing press criticism. Yes, he criticizes the Times for running the op-ed, but he is also criticizing Baig, a filmmaker, not only for her immaturity, and her "privilege" ( read out of touch liberal), but also for her tribalism, a tribalism, one assumes, of the liberal kind. And, in criticizing Ms Baig, Somerby wishes to make a broader point about liberals in general: that we love to create monsters. I would argue that this is a trait possessed by many people of all political persuasions, but Somerby is only interested in pointing it out in liberals. Fine. But it is no way just press or media criticism.

    1. Unless Somerby means her "tribe" is women.. or perhaps young people. Or Yale graduates.

  10. What this precocious young woman and the idiot commenter here don't understand is there's sometimes a buggy. How many drivers does a buggy have?One. So, let's just say when your 26 in Hollyowood someone else is driving this buggy. And, if you fix your attitude, you can ride along with them.

    1. So speaketh commenter with great knowledge of Hollywood.

      I bet Weinstein used to drive that buggy.

    2. Or Sherry Lansing . That young woman ain't that's for sure .

    3. Sherry Lansing was a producer and studio executive, not a director.

    4. Weinstein was a producer and studio executive, not a director idiot cunt.

    5. Go somewhere else if you need to use that word.

  11. How quickly Somerby's readers forget:

    SATURDAY, JANUARY 13, 2018

    It's all anthropology now: Recently, we made a major announcement:

    "It's all anthropology now."

    By that, we meant the following:

    Especially at times like these, there's no point in trying to offer facts, information or analysis to our floundering species

    BREAKING: Excitement, anticipation grow!
    FRIDAY, DECEMBER 29, 2017

    a "word of the year" for 2017.

    For us, that word would be "anthropology."
    We're suggesting that we move away from the "rational animal" paradigm, a framework which has obscured our vision for millennia now. In its place, we should move toward a framework in which we cease to expect rational conduct from any of our various tribes, understanding that we're basically a life form whose conduct is biologically determined, perhaps a bit like zebras or manatees, even butterflies.

  12. Then again, everyone else is talking about Sam Nunberg.

  13. How silly Somerby is to think that a person making films and writing for a living and taking (or planning to take until other things (than finances) get in the way) trips to Japan and Mexico - that such a person is privileged.

    Ridikkulus. Only cis straight white men are privileged. Four times even. In fact, this woman earned her rewards fighting her way to the top in this white supremacist patriarchy. Plus she is an incredibly talented writer and director. Like an Atlas or something.

    Hopefully she never shrugs.

    Otherwise life could get really bad for all the cis straight white men working on garbage trucks.

    1. Inconceivable to Dr. T that this woman might actually be talented and deserving of being taken seriously within her field. Like Somerby, he needs to mock her for being insulted by diversion to a special program to get minorities off the backs of those who do the hiring.

      Her personal life, including trips wherever she damned well wants to go, is no one's business and says nothing whatsoever about her professional qualifications, pro or con. Somerby thinks she isn't paying her dues. He's wrong. She just wants to pay the same dues as the guys do.

    2. She should be stuck making documentaries for a few decades before Hollywood gives her a chance to make a few chick flicks.

    3. Atlas was a privileged white male. He came from a very influential family.

  14. I seriously want to know how many times Somerby was asked to watch Louis C.K. masturbate. That seems to be what women have to do in order to get on stage in stand up comedy. Somerby was successful in that field. I want to know who he blew to get there. If he says no one, I'll know he didn't pay the same dues as women must to get ahead in comedy.

  15. Sounds like a few privileged trolls have their feelings hurt here.

  16. Gosh...a lot of passion in the comments! Here's my attempt to get back to the central themes of this conversation.

    Although not entirely clear, it seemed to me that Somerby was saying that a) Ms Baig was unfairly creating a monster, b) Ms Baig's indictment of the "monster" was apparently inconsistent with her attitude in a later part of her narrative and c) perhaps Ms Baig seemed to present an attitude of entitlement unappealing in a young person who, despite being a woman of color, nevertheless seemed to exhibit a pretty decent portfolio of privileges.

    Does this summary of Bob's column make sense?

    a) In my reading of Ms. Baig's column, she does seem to imply that the studio executive who invited her to dinner was guilty of something. It rather read as if the offense was offering her a place in what I took to be a development program for historically under-represented groups (HUGS). I must admit that does not strike me as being particularly monstrous, actually more of a golden opportunity, and Ms Baig's taking offense does strike me as odd. Perhaps she did not provide necessary context that would permit us to share her outrage?

    b) If, indeed, Ms Baig was outraged at being offered a HUGS development program, it seems a little odd that she later writes, seemingly glowingly, of her experience in another such program. At the very least, she has again failed to provide her readers with the context that would explain the different reactions she had to the two offers. Perhaps her narrative ability needs development?

    c) There seems to be an implication in what Ms Baig writes, that she deserved more than the "monster" offered. I, and probably many of us, imagine that directing jobs in Hollywood are highly desirable and extraordinarily difficult to get. Yet this young woman of rather limited experience seemed from her article to have huffily rejected what seemed like a path that sounds as if it could have led to that glittering prize! It seems that she felt she deserved something more. "I felt, suddenly, that he did not see me as a filmmaker ready to take on television." That's right! Not yet, young lady. Where on earth did you get that sense of entitlement?

    We know that women and people of color are under-represented in most of the desirable functions in Hollywood. It may well be that this imbalance is at least partly a consequence of discrimination at the point of entry. But even if we swept all vestiges of that discrimination from Hollywood...heck, even if only women of color were hired as directors, these jobs would still be enormously desirable, and four years out of Yale with nothing but a short internet film on your resume would still not entitle you to anything more than a foot on the lowest rung of the ladder.

    So, perhaps I (and perhaps Bob) misread Ms Baig's column, but Bob's discussion seemed reasonable to me.

    I'll comment on the comments themselves below.

  17. I agree with Bob here, and will add that her attempt to align herself with sexual victims in Hollywood was incredibly dishonest.

    Also, her short was ethnic/cross cultural! So there was nothing racist with Mr. Bad Guy suggesting those programs.

    Here's how you get directing jobs now. It's not 1972 any more -- an era that saw much LiESS competition:

    -Inherit money and fund your own movies until you catch on (PT Anderson)

    --Find wealthy business partners (Kubrick)

    -- Get in industry programs and write.

    The last is the hardest way to go.

  18. Now for the comments.

    There are several comments (many are from Anonymous, and I take her/him to be a single commenter) that post Wikipedia summaries of the careers of male and female directors. I assume Anonymous' claim to be that (s)he feels that these summaries indicate that the path is materially easier for male directors than female...but I can only assume that. It is really not clear to me that the quotes support such an assertion. Anonymous...can you provide more detail? What advantages in those quotes about males or whites indicates something that is not available to females or people of color? Again, I don't deny that discrimination exists...I just see no evidence for it in the quoted Wikipedia entries. The male and female entries actually seem pretty similar to my eye.

    Another point on the Wikipedia quotes. Suppose, for the sake of argument, that all the quotes about male directors demonstrated conclusively that they all got their positions in the industry through outrageous nepotism. To what would that entitle Ms Baig, even in a non-sexist society? If 0.1% of males who wanted to be directors were successful...perhaps through nepotism (I'm just making up the number, but it seems likely that it is very small)...what would be Ms Baig's chances of success in a non-sexist society? Would that justify her apparent sense of entitlement? (Hint: the answer might be 0.1%, and might be higher or lower depending on whether she was the beneficiary of nepotism).

    One other theme that seems to crop up in the comments is the idea that a HUGS development program is just a way of fobbing off pesky minority candidates on something that leads nowhere. @Perry: "The appropriate job for someone in this person's position in life is Assistant Director, not gopher, not intern, not diversity program shadow." I suppose that could be true, but it is not the presumption that I brought to Ms Baig's article (and was probably not what Bob assumed either). Maddeningly, Ms Baig herself seems to take both sides on this question...taking offense when "monster" fobs her off with a HUGS mentorship program, but then writing glowingly of the similar program she later accepted elsewhere. So, we really need more information, but this does seem to be the key question in formulating a view of Ms. Baig's article. @Perry makes a factual claim that would justify Ms Baig's initial reaction to the monster ("The appropriate job for someone in this person's position in life is Assistant Director..."), but this claim would seem to be contradicted by Ms Baig's later enthusiasm for the program she did accept. And, would there be such a thing as an "appropriate position" if, say, 99% of applicants got no position at all and were faced with a lifetime as a barista? Wouldn't the "appropriate" position be no position at all? (Again, I'm making numbers up...but I'm still assuming that jobs as directors are intensely difficult to get). Perry or you have actual knowledge or relevant data that you can share on these questions?

    1. A long way of saying you assume Baig is underqualified and entitled despite the quality of her short film. You are incapable of assuming she may be talented and deserving of a chance. Why is that?

    2. Ms. Baig may well be talented. But it seems likely that being a director is one of those intensely competitive careers that has vastly more people who want to do it than there are available places. That would make breaking into the profession intensely difficult for all aspirants. For every talented person who succeeds in breaking in, there are surely many, many other talented people who fail. What makes Ms. Baig, among all those talented aspirants, entitled to treatment unavailable to them all?

    3. That's right. You have to start at the bottom and work your way up. You don't just become President of the United States without any political experience, do you?

    4. Anonymous...yes, most people do have to start at the bottom in their chosen career and work their way up. Are you suggesting that somehow Ms Baig is entitled to an exemption? Because Donald Trump?

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