Two Of Today's Best Showrunners Talk About the Hollywood Reckoning
During their Vulture Festival LA Panel, Damon Lindelof and Mike Schur dug in on the current state of sexist, abusive, burn-it-all-down hollywood. Mike Schur noted:
The biggest problem, in retrospect [after the crimes and assaults themselves]…nobody talks about it and everyone is complicit. Everybody knew about Kevin Spacey … I remember very distinctly, oh, he’s hitting on the pages, he’s hitting on the young men in the talent department … It was the most open secret that’s ever existed. I didn’t know the extent to which it was predatory, certainly. But no one didn’t know.
And explaining his tweet regarding Louis CK:
I don't remember when I heard the rumors about him. But I'm sure it was before the last time he was on Parks and Rec. And that sucks. And I'm sorry.— Ken Tremendous (@KenTremendous) November 9, 2017
Schur reiterated that he couldn’t say when he first heard the CK allegations, but he was sure it was at least before CK’s last appearance.
And so … well, I didn’t say anything, and so I was complicit … The larger issue was, and continues to be, that we don’t just talk about this stuff. The women, and men, to whom this is being done and is affecting are scared and they feel like they can’t talk about it. In certain situations there are very few other women even around in their environment, even if they feel like they want to say something they wouldn’t know where to go. In many cases when they did say something, nothing happened … The conversation comes to a halt … and it sucks. And everyone’s attitude is that this would be better if we don’t talk about this. And that, going forward, is obviously something that has to change.
From there, Damon Lindelof picked up the thread and noted that it’s not just about talking about it. We all have to self-reflect and create better, more diverse environments:
The real hard, deep dive that we all have to do is that a lot of men, particularly white men in positions of power in our business, look at themselves as the exception to the rule. “I’m the good one. I’m well-intentioned. I’m not part of the problem, I’m part of the solution.” But I think this starts with a deep dive on yourself and your past behavior and if you’re writing in a writer’s room, when are you making people uncomfortable. How conscious of whether everybody is laughing at the joke or laughing because you’re the boss?”
Here, Lindelof shared a personal anecdote, noting that there was a moment in season one of The Leftovers where Justin Theroux was wearing sweatpants and you could basically see his junk. Because Theroux had been asked about it on the late night circuit, Lindelof felt it was OK for him to talk about it and make public jokes about, joke about future scenes fully exposing young Justin, etc. And he did this without asking Justin if Justin was actually cool with it (and implies that Justin would later say he was not) and this was totally inappropriate. And the mere fact that Theroux is a guy doesn’t automatically make it OK. So think about what you’re doing, what you’re saying, and whether a little self-censorship may be warranted.
Start with the premise that we are part of the problem because we are in this culture … And not to be overly simplistic about, don’t have writer’s room that’s dominated by white dudes. Create parity. Give power to others … start to build a culture where that shit doesn’t happen anymore.
Later, Schur added to this point: “You wanna talk about how to self-correct. Build shows around nice people. Don’t build a show around Charlie Sheen.”