Last night I went to see NBCUniversal & UCB Theatre's Advanced Improv Diversity Scholarship Finalist Showcase. Eight performers (including my friend Nicole) who were the finalists to receive a scholarship from NBC/Universal for classes at UCB. Now, I'm all in favor of diversity, and of seeing my friends perform. Nicole didn't win, but apparently the non-winning finalists at least get discounted classes at UCB. I thought about it and did some math: The average class at UCB costs around $400, and lasts eight weeks. From the beginning of May until now (5 months, give or take), I've taken three classes. Even if the winner crams ten classes into a year, that's a $4,000 scholarship. NBC/Universal, with all their billions, can afford to shell out four grand to further diversity. Ooh, I'm impressed.
I get pissed off by how white and male the world of comedy (and TV/film in general, really) is. Working on my homework, I thought I'd take a break and watch an episode of Funny or Die. Watching the end credits, there were NINE writers credited. You wanna guess how many of them were women? Yep. Zero.
I actually got pissed off by something very similar in the book I was reading yesterday. A character, a 20-something woman, is a pre-med student. She's talking to her father, a lawyer. He goes on a rant about women choosing college majors that lead to low-paying jobs ("Education. Social work. English.") versus men choosing majors that lead to high-paying jobs ("Engineering."). He then says "And then they wonder why women don't make as much money as men... These girls do it to themselves." Now, maybe the author's intention is to paint him as a sexist jerk, but if so, then why didn't the daughter respond with what my brain was screaming: That maybe we, as a culture, should reassess how we value certain jobs. Engineers aren't paid more than teachers because engineering has some actual intrinsic value greater than that of teaching. Engineers build bridges. Teachers build the minds of the people who will later build bridges (and create art and invent medicines and do everything else). Maybe we should be paying teachers as much as engineers. Maybe we should be paying teachers more.
This folds back on what I hear and see so often in my day to day life: Women are ornamental. Women aren't funny. Women are the flash, men are the substance. I work on shows where the men and the women on the crew and in the cast are perfectly fine with treating each other as equals as individuals, but once those cameras roll, the women are in shoes that make walking impossible and dresses that make breathing impossible, and the men are still comfy and casual. True story: Walking in to the UCB Theater last night, I hear one young man tell another young man "You'll like her -- she's cute." And I think, is that really all we're worth?
It's likely this will be x-posted to feminist_rage