Friday, July 9, 2010

The Daily Show, Sexism, Etc.

Isaac responds to the Daily Show sexism allegations here. I don't have a disagreement with how he applies it to theater, but I do want to respond to the specific analogy:
Sub in "Playwrights Horizons" for Jon Stewart and racial diversity amongst playwrights, and you've pretty much got the point I've been trying to make on this site.
I'm torn about whether I think Jon Stewart is the Playwrights Horizons in this situation. Because really, the organization that has a greater power and a greater responsibility to rectify things in this situation is, really, Comedy Central (or Viacom?).

Jon Stewart does have the onus to do as best as he can to improve hiring practices if it is within his reach, but to say that it's Jon Stewart's job to reshape the future of the industry seems to me to simply be inflating his personal position in the field. He's not an executive beyond the reach of his show. I really think that it's his employers -- Comedy Central / MTV Enterprises / Viacom that have a lot more power and sway to change the landscape of the industry to let in more women.

I'm looking at Comedy Central's lineup, and here's the list of original programming (not counting their stand-up programming) led by men:
  • The Daily Show
  • South Park
  • The Colbert Report
  • Tosh.0
  • Ugly Americans
  • Important Things with Demetri Martin
  • Futurama
Here's the list of original programming led by women:

That's Playwrights Horizons.

(Update: Ian Thal brings up The Sarah Silverman Program as being a show led by a woman on Comedy Central. Unfortunately, the Sarah Silverman Program appears to have been cancelled, which is why the Wikipedia list I referred to to generate the above list did not include it.)


Ian Thal said...

The Sarah Silverman Program has been renewed for a third season.

The trend on Comedy Central might be lopsided gender-wise, but let's not skew things by leaving out relevant data. (And I usually count on you to do number crunching.)

Also, what do we mean by "led by men"? Staring men? Produced by men? Written by men?

Futurama's long time story editor is Kristin Gore, so is the program actually "led by men"? The story editor is generally the most powerful person in the writing room-- and thus in selecting what scripts are used.

CultureFuture said...

Well, to the first point, that is simply what happens when at the end of a long day at work, you use Wikipedia as your reference... it listed The Sarah Silverman Show under "past shows". I'll update the post accordingly.

As to the second point, you're right that it's hard to always point out exactly who runs the show at a show. I, again, relied on Wikipedia -- Futurama's article says "created by Matthew Groenig and developed by Groenig and Philip J. Fry." She is probably very powerful, but my guess was that at the end of the day Matthew Groening ran the boat. Kristin Gore is only mentioned in the article once, and only in reference to being Al Gore's daughter. None of the executive producers are female.

CultureFuture said...

Checking around, it seems as though The Sarah Silverman Program remains through the third season, it has been cancelled for the fourth:

That would be why it didn't show up on the list.

Ian Thal said...

I didn't realize it had been cancelled as I've been without cable for a year. Nonetheless, Sarah Silverman was their highest rated show for a while. I was just listening to an interview with her on the radio about a month or two ago and she was talking about working on the program as if it were still an ongoing concern.

I wouldn't discount the script editor position-- they're ultimately the ones who commission scripts, generally plot out a season, order rewrites, and hire new writers. The script editor is often (though not always) the producer and/or the lead writer as well.

CultureFuture said...

I wouldn't discount the script supervisor, and I'm definitely sure her contributions are highly valued. But I don't think anyone's ever going to call it Kristin Gore's Futurama -- it's usually referred to as Matt Groening's Futurama. This may be grossly unfair to Kristin Gore, and in fact may be part of the problem.

I guess "led" is not necessarily the right word... I'm trying to get at "ownership," certainly in the public sense.

Ian Thal said...

In that case, yes, the trademarks are owned by Groening and Cohen, but when we start to discuss how television programs are made, the assigning creative contributions gets a bit fuzzy-- which was sort of my point.

CultureFuture said...

Yes, I'll absolutely grant that point.