Diversity and the Directors Guild of America
Most of American Thinker's readers are more than familiar with hypocrisy on the left.
But when a group of left-leaning elites accuse another group of left-leaning elites of racial discrimination while guilty of it themselves, it's like a hypocritical feedback loop that takes one into uncharted levels of irony.
The Directors' Guild of America (DGA) is, by most standards, the strongest union in the film & TV industry. Directors and Producers rely one another like no other professional team in Hollywood. Stories of strikes within the Writers' Guild and the Screen Actors Guild have graced the headlines of recent years, and simultaneously, negotiators for the DGA have sat down with producers and knocked out mutually-beneficial agreements in record time.
With that in mind, it was curious to see the DGA indirectly accusing productions of discrimination based on the disproportionate number of TV episodes that are awarded to women and minority directors.
In the most recent DGA Monthly, the cover story reads "DGA Report Finds Director Diversity in Episodic TV Remains Static."
The full report can be seen here.
In the report, the DGA gives extensive data on the various shows in production and the episodic TV industry overall, breaking down working directors on lines of sex and minority status.
Out of all the TV episodes shot in the 2012-2013 season:
● 72% were directed by white men
● 12% were directed by white women
● 14% were directed by minority men
● 2% were directed by minority women
It then goes on to lambaste productions with a "WORST OF" list for shows that have less than 15% of their episodes helmed by women or minority directors.
Although the DGA never directly accuses these productions of discrimination, the implication is thick. In this day and age of diversity and multiculturalism, how can Hollywood call itself progressive in light of this data?
The biggest problem with this report, however, is that it doesn't provide statistics on the makeup of the total DGA director membership. That would have provided some context. If minority females made up 25% of the membership but only got 2% of the work, that would be telling. But membership statistics are found nowhere in the report, which is also telling.
Hypothesis: those statistics weren't shared because they'd undercut the narrative that women and minority directors are being unfairly discriminated against.
The DGA doesn't offer these statistics directly. But they do allow users to search the membership database with this tool.
Because the DGA wants to encourage the hiring of females and minorities, they allow their database to be searched under those parameters. Consequently (and perhaps inadvertently), this also makes it very easy to break down the entire membership with some deductive math. This is not unlike the Journal News of Westchester, NY not realizing that by giving an interactive map of gun owners in the area, it was also providing a map of people without guns.
Since the article was about directors, and specifically directors in episodic TV, I kept my search focused on directors in Los Angeles and New York. Although there are a handful of shows shot in other cities, LA & NY represent the overwhelming majority and are more than sufficient for our data purposes. Furthermore, the majority of directors who do work on these distant locations (Atlanta for instance, where "The Walking Dead" is filmed) are typically flown out from LA or NY.
My Los Angeles membership search returned the following statistics on directors:
● 5853 total, made up of:
● 4633 white men
● 706 white women
● 414 minority men
● 100 minority women
Here are the stats for New York:
● 1611 total, made up of:
● 1191 white men
● 288 white women
● 102 minority men
● 30 minority women
Bringing them together, we get the following totals:
● 7464 total directors in LA and NY, made up of:
● 5824 white men (78% of the whole)
● 994 white women (13%)
● 516 minority men (7%)
● 130 minority women (1.7%)
Now we have some context by which to judge the episodic TV industry.
Even though white men make up 78% of DGA directors, they only get 72% of the work. Particularly surprising is that minority men get 14% of the work, despite only being 7% of the total membership. To put it another way -- per capita, minority male directors get more than double the work of their white counterparts. Statistically speaking, minority males in the guild are doing fantastic. That didn't make the DGA report.
Women, both whites and minorities, have rates of employment that are statistically equal to the overall DGA membership.
In summary: Diversity in the employment of episodic TV directors is statistically parallel with the diversity of DGA members (in the director category) overall. The one exception is in the category of minority male directors, who enjoy an employment rate twice as high as their group's representation within the guild.
Make no mistake -- diversity is a good thing when it is achieved by producers making the best decisions for their shows. But if the DGA wants to have an impact on the diversity of episodic TV productions, a good place to start would be its own membership.
Alan Smithee is the pseudonym of a member of the DGA.