“Instead of grumbling and growling, do something about it.” ~Walt Disney

I particularly appreciated the real-life interviews, from real people who work in the media in Hesmondalgh and Baker’s Creative Labour: Media Work in Three Cultural Industries. The interviews make the idea of working in production seem more real. For example, on page 148, Ingrid, a managing director of an independent production company says: “I think if you want to have a life outside of television –and women are people that have children – you have to think carefully about which jobs you take, and a man wouldn’t necessarily. So the news jobs are really hard I think for women, because they are punishing hours and the ethos is still male” (Hesmondlalgh Baker 148).

Although these interviews are from 2003, and from women who took maternity leave from their TV production jobs (147) in the early 1990s, this brings up an interesting point. Although women can do anything they want to, including not have kids, it’s true that men still rule the production business. The fact that it continues to say that “having a partner who can support part-time employment is important in such situations” is disappointing because it doesn’t tell us how to get on the level of the men, but instead tells us to rely on men.

As someone who doesn’t know what the hell she’s doing with her life, interviews #35 and #9 really spoke to me. One says “career anxieties were generally more oriented towards the future, to life beyond the thirties” (146). Even the men are worried. “Larry” says, “it’s a young industry and if you don’t make it by the time you’re in your late 30s, you’re fucked” (Interview 9).

       Another young woman working in TV research said, “I really don’t know what to do to be honest”. When friends and relatives ask me, “so what do you want to do?”, I never know what to say. If I say “I have no idea”, then it’s always the older people, for example my parents’ friends, who say “You know, that’s okay. You don’t have to know now, you’ll figure it out”. And people my age never tend to be so relaxed about it, because they’re usually going through the same stress.

Some of the interviews in Hesmondalgh and Baker’s article are about as reassuring as a broken rubber band. Another interviewee, a female director and series producer turned office worker at a casting agency, said that “gender is a big issue in the television industry” (147). The interview continues: “Women were either very young and working at junior grades – runners, researchers, assistant producers and also production secretaries—or otherwise were much older and in senior executive positions (147). So these women run coffee, leave, have kids, come back, then work in an office? That sounds like a miserable life, and it also sounds like this book is trying to convince us not to work in the film industry.

pinocchio  Jobs will always have some type of hierarchy, as well. Last night I was watching American Experience’s Walt Disney, a brilliant four-hour documentary about the early life of Disney, including the opening of Disneyland, the making of the early Disney films, such as Snow White, Pinocchio, Cinderella, and Mary Poppins, and a look at the behind the scenes life of underpaid Disney artists of the time. There was a strike by the Disney employees because the hierarchy was so dramatic that some people were making $300 per week, while some were only making $12, and the lower ranked employees wanted to join a union.

Walt Disney called a big meeting, and said, “If you’re not progressing as you should, instead of grumbling and growling, do something about it” (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/walt-disney/transcript/). So they did. The artists rallied and protested, and about half of the entire studio’s art department was involved. The strike went on for more than a month, and was actually resolved by Roy Disney, not Walt. The Disney studios were never the same, but they were more equal because of the unionization, something that is important in many jobs in the film industry, if not all of them.

You can watch the entire film here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/walt-disney/


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