Embrace The “…isms”

by | Feb 22, 2024

by Linda Voorhees

Labels are part of life. It’s a quick way to make a judgment and give consideration to the people you decide might be part of your acquaintanceship—or not. We all do it. We make quick assessment of the people in line at Starbucks, or roll our eyes at a stoner sitting at a red light in a junky car. It gives us a quiet “win.”

It’s human nature to be competitive. But that nature of competition often gives way to negative stereotyping. The broad stroke negative labels create bias, social restriction and career blockades.

We all seem to have an ism attached to us. Ageism, cronyism, racism, sexism. We used to blame everything on white middle-aged men, and to some degree we still do. But the truth is, that’s as unfair as any other label of restriction or generality.

There are limited ways to fight isms. We do it by finding a way to push through someone else’s bias. We do it by refusing the negative definition of the label put on us. We also do it by working against our own instincts to create an ism for someone who seems like an easy target because of the way they look, or their accent, or manner of expression.

Hollywood as an industry is no better or worse than any other place you might work. Women can be objectified. Young men can be the target of predatory behavior. People who fit a category of race, creed or religion might be seen as “other’ and are compartmentalized, or ignored.

The isms abound.

But rather than define Hollywood in terms of the closed doors that are slammed. It is up to those of us who wear our ism like a badge of honor, to prove the system wrong. We have to work hard to change the system while the system works to keep us out.

How about this? Let’s form a global ism. Membership is easy. You have to belong to a group that Hollywood just ain’t into.

Then let’s work together to rattle every door, rap on every window, climb over stone walls with stolen ladders. Once inside, let’s make a pact that we’ll throw the doors and windows wide open for all the isms to walk in right behind us. Isms with stories, characters and scripts ready to be filmed. Great stories that are new and ancient. Stories that with humor, warmth, pain and poignancy expose the harm we do by the labels we apply.

Write on.

ProPath Screenwriting