MICHAEL DAVIS: You’ll never work in this town again
Before you start marching on Disney, remember this was a vastly different time in America. It’s fair to say that me writing that I dated white women would have been just cause for me to fear for my life in 1938 in some parts of America. We have sure come a long way!
Or… (Place ominous music here) have we?
There are still people in this country who think that women and other minorities are not equal.
It’s the year 2007 and the ERA has not been pasted. The Equal Rights Amendment, first proposed in 1923, is still not part of the U.S. Constitution.
What is up with that?
It’s the year 2007 and there are only 35 states that say that women are equal. So how far have we come? I know from experience that there still exists racism in this country. Statistics prove that sexism still exists. The “glass ceiling” is a frequent topic for documentaries and ‘special reports’ on news programs.
This Disney letter got me wondering if sexism and racism are real factors in the entertainment world. I have been on hundreds of TV pitches and never felt it was a factor. I, like a lot of black people have a sort of radar sense when it comes to discrimination.
No, I am not the sort of person (but I do know black people like this) who blame everything on being black. Have you heard any of these? They did not hire me because I’m Black. They won’t rent to me because I’m Black. They think I’m darker than them because I’m Black.
Now replace “black” with “woman” and tell me have you heard these? They did not hire me because I’m a woman. They won’t promote me because I’m a woman. They think I’m female because I’m a woman.
I used to think that some deals of mine were killed because I was black. I realized that it was not because I was black, it was because some people in positions of power did not like me.
Oh, that goes on all the time. Keith Giffin told me a few years ago that I had created what he said could be the next Watchmen. In fact, everyone I have talked to about this project thinks it’s great. Long story short: a major comic book company wanted to do it but “Not with Michael Davis.” You may ask yourself how can they do something without the creator? Well there are two ways; the first is they steal it. I doubt that there is a comic company out there who would try that with me. Why? Because I have big juicy lawyers with big juicy law firms who do my bidding. There are a lot of people in Hollywood who would never think about sicing their lawyers on anybody.
Because then they run the risk of never working with that company again. That always stuck me as funny and stupid. I mean you won’t speak up because the company who is ripping you off and not paying you may not pay you in the future? I just don’t get that. There’s a line that has been in Hollywood for eons that even if you don’t work in Hollywood I’m sure you have heard.
That line is “You’ll never work in this town again!”
So Hollywood is so full of itself that there is even a catch phrase whose sole purpose is to make you submit. As you well know by now, I have my own catch phrase. It’s (say it with me) I’m not that guy.
The second way that a comic book (or any entertainment company) can make a creator leave his own project is to write them a big check. In my career I have made a grip of money…sometimes. I was banking so much that once I was in a Ferrari dealership looking at buying two cars. I thank God often that I came to my senses that day. Now the flip side of that is I have gone years without a single paycheck. In the entertainment business you can be rolling one day and rolled over the next. Trust me – it’s no fun, because even when you have money there is always the fear that you will never get another check as long as you live. That’s scary.
Well, regardless of what I had in the bank when the offer came in for me to let the project go for a sizeable check I said no. Actually what I said I can’t repeat here. Let’s just leave it at no.
As I said (wait for it) I’m not that guy.
I have had deals killed and did think at the time that it was because I was black. But as I mentioned I now think that if those deals were killed because of a personal issue and the issue was me, not the color of my skin.
I do think that Hollywood at a higher level does react to racism and sexism. Case in point, every five years or so prominent black leaders hold a major press conference and announce that there are not enough people of color on TV. There is actually a report that some watch dog group does that list just how many blacks, Asians, Latinos, etc. are featured on TV.
So, what does Hollywood do? Well it hires another minority executive or puts on another show about a black family. It’s usually another Cosby show rip but the hook is different. The official pitch line could be something like this: Meet The Washingtons. It’s The Cosby Show Meets Good Times Meets The Brady Bunch. A Black Doctor and his Black Lawyer wife live in the projects with their nine kids!
That’s how they would sell the show. This is what the description in TV Guide would say.
Meet The Washingtons
Saturday 3AM. UPN
In tonight’s episode Ray-Ray Washington is about graduate from High School but is shot in a drive by on his way to the ceremony. To make matters worst it’s his 30th birthday and nobody remembers.
Comedy 1 hour
When I saw this letter from 1938 I first thought we had (as a once catchy jingle once said) Come a long way baby. This letter is clearly sexist and I know for sure that no entertainment company would send this out today. But when Hillary Clinton is being criticized not so much about the war but about her “coldness” and the ERA is still not a law, I do wonder how far we have come and about how far we have to go.
Michael Davis is a comics creator and the founder of the Guardian Line series of comics as well as being a television producer and writer. He was a co-founder of Milestone Comics and his artwork has appeared in Wasteland, Green Arrow: Shado, Green Hornet and The Question, among others.