Whew! I'm sure glad that's over! For a second there, I was about to get all bent out of shape over the Peter Bart situation--Bart having been recently suspended as editor-in-chief of Variety, the trade paper that 30,000-plus of us hungrily dig through every morning trying to find some trace of our names printed among the ads studios buy to convince us "The Wedding Planner" really was a good movie!
The suspension came after an article in Los Angeles Magazine reported that Bart routinely lied, misrepresented himself, profited off the studios he's supposed to be impartially covering and throws around racial epithets and bigoted and sexist remarks like he's being paid by the slur.
Sure, at first glance that all sounds bad, but thanks to the Counterpunch piece in Calendar last week by Bob Shayne ("Defending 'Conscience of Hollywood,"' Aug. 27), I now understand that it's not Bart that's got the problem, it's all the rest of us!
To be honest, most of what Bart's accused of doing I couldn't care less about. He lied? He was a bad boy? That's all we do in Hollywood anymore since we quit making movies that are vaguely watchable. And frankly, in L.A., unless Bart had checked into rehab with a harem of drug-addled prostitutes, he wouldn't have even rated the front page of his own paper.
And as Shayne says, if Bart found a way to flagrantly weasel around a code of ethics that would have gotten any other low-level journalist at Variety kicked to the curb ... that's nothing but a can-do attitude shining through. And I can certainly understand Bart's calling and begging a reporter from L.A. Magazine not to out him as being a Jew. In this town, that's a career-ender!
What almost--almost--got my panties in a bunch was Bart's treatise on intra-racial relationships among African Americans that was lightly spiced with the "n" word.
Now, normally, you wouldn't think ex-studio heads would have particular insight into the psyche of people of color. Apparently, nothing could be further from the truth. Bart, according to Shayne, may or may not have a secretary who's black, so right there that makes him the cat most in tune with what's going on with the brothers, especially since Jesse Jackson's on the outs. Shayne also points out that Bart's secretary is someone he "seems to care about very much."
I say, anybody who can "seem" to care about a person who may or may not be black--let's call the pope and get him beatified before the other major religions want a piece of this find!
Regardless of Bart's pedigree, according to Shayne, Bart's rather ... interesting views are the same as those held by "most liberals of all races." I wouldn't have thought Shayne would have had adequate time to poll "most liberals of all races" between the publication of the article in L.A. Magazine and when he wrote his response, but evidently he's got a Lou Harris-like mechanism in place for just such an eventuality.
The fact is, by himself, Shayne--a "longtime and award-winning television writer-producer" whose awards obviously include several doctorates in anthropology and sociology--really has a grasp on this whole black people thing, and he's not afraid to spew it for us actual black people who can't possible know what it's like to be ourselves.
Thanks to Shayne, I can finally throw away my mantle of being a "light-skinned" black because the concept is an "oxymoron." There's only one true shade of black, and that we so-called "light-skinned" blacks are mixed race is "obvious," and don't let any black person try and tell you otherwise!
And I was amazed to find out there is an "insidious" prejudice "among African Americans" against darker-skinned blacks. Well, sure. We're oxymorons, and they're not, which is probably why there are so few blacks working in movies and TV. It's not the bigots who are keeping us from getting jobs, it's this senseless infighting!
I can't wait to share all this newfound insight with my older sister, who is substantially darker than I and whom I apparently hate and to whom I can't possibly be related. It's bound to make our family Kwanzaa celebrations a bit sticky, but I'm sure we'll get by. The important thing, as Shayne tells us, is to not judge poor, misunderstood Peter Bart because he's an old man who hasn't been brought up with "superficial political correctness instilled in him." You know, that superficial political correctness that whispers: \o7 You can't call black people niggers! \f7 Apparently, Bart is going to get a quick injection of PC-ness, as diversity training is a stipulation of his reinstatement. The real lesson in all this, as Shayne sermonizes, is not to get caught up in the idea that "being black is so different from being white that it should rule one's life."
What tends to not rule, but rather dictate, my life are the occasions when I've gone to a meeting at a swank production company, only to be told that "deliveries are downstairs," or the times I've driven off the lot where I have an overall deal, only to be stopped by the security guard at the gate to have the trunk of my car checked while other employees (other is also pronounced "white") just drive on home.
What rules my life are the old-school boys in power who think it's OK to consider me a nigger. But as his life is no different from mine, I'm sure Shayne has shared those very experiences.
Thank you, Bob. Thank you for putting the perspective on blackness the way only a middle-aged white guy can.