Mr. Hoch Goes to Hollywood | The Nation


Mr. Hoch Goes to Hollywood

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But hey, Hollywood's not all assholes. There are some good people. Yet I wonder if they stand any chance. Recently a friend of mine at a major studio called me and said, "Listen, I just got a senior development job here. I'm gonna make sure your stuff gets on the air. It needs to be seen by all America. You have such a diverse audience, and it's completely sellable to any advertiser. They'll eat it up."

The film Jails, Hospitals & Hip-Hop will be released in 2000...we hope.

About the Author

Danny Hoch
Danny Hoch is an actor, writer and teacher. His book Jails, Hospitals & Hip-Hop was released last fall by Villard/...

I told her that I was willing to sit down and discuss a deal, and that although I knew it was network TV and there were guidelines to be adhered to, they couldn't censor my ideas, and the project was the project, period. No replacing black male leads with skinny blonde white girls. No replacing sociopolitical themes for minstrelsy or inanities or themes "about nothing." But before she could even set up a "meeting," her bosses started to worry, "Well, wait a second--we know he's hot and we love his work, but what exactly is it that he wants to do? What if we think a white character is more appropriate?" They canceled our meeting. And this is supposedly the free-thinking world. No censorship and a rainbow of multiculti love? Where's my meeting? I guess I've learned, you can only get your ideas across to a mass audience, whether it's news, TV or film, if they are Hollywood's ideas. If you allow the creative people at the studios to butcher, dilute and censor your ideas, then you can participate in the entertainment industry.

These "creative people" never went to writing school, acting school or storytelling school and have no idea what is happening in the communities of North America, let alone the world. But they sure know how to sell some Nikes, boy. I used to think these creative people in Hollywood weren't creative at all, that they were mere sneaker salesmen and popcorn saleswomen. But they are more creative than us artists. Because they generate a product that is so condescending, so stifling, so pacifying, that we sit there and watch billions of dollars of ads and think nothing of it. Matter of fact, we don't think anything at all. They are master creators of passivity. And they didn't even go to school for it. Actually they did: business school.

Maybe I should just be happy that I have the opportunity to even be in the room with these esteemed Hollywood people. Maybe I should do anything they ask me to do, blackface and all. Maybe I should stop making a fuss and not speak out anymore. It seems that every time I ask a question, challenge an idea or stand up for a principle in Hollywood, the more I get labeled as "political" and "difficult to work with" and the less they want to be in "business" with me. Maybe that's a good thing. But why should I complain? I'm making a living. I not only have my foot in the door, but every major movie and TV studio knows my work. They all come to my shows, repeatedly. Most come late, but they come. Like flocks of late and clueless vultures begging for comp tickets.

You led me on, Hollywood. You flash your cash and power and say, "This could be yours too." But you lead us all on, every day. It's your very job to lead us on. To the next commercial. At the end of the day, are we all just salespeople? And why should I expect any less from the same companies that make us think Republicans and Democrats are two different parties, and that there are a few alternate psychos to vote for? And they don't even allow the approved alternate psychos in the debate. I should expect them to be fair? To me? What did I do to deserve to be treated fairly by Hollywood? It's not like I own some big company. I don't even own my house. What was I thinking? Of course, I could be just some bitter, confused, frustrated, complaining, out-of-work actor...who's not even out of work. I think I'll go turn on the tube and think about voting for one of the parties that our democratic media tell us are valid, and then I'll watch Seinfeld, and then I will do nothing.

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