Watching (The Culture) While Black
The idea of being a creative, free-thinking adult, in particular, an adult who has talent and a rich back catalog of work, used to go along way in Hollywood and, in particular, in the writers’ rooms of TV shows.
Walter Mosley, 67, author of more than forty books across multiple genres, among them Devil in a Blue Dress, which was made into the 1995 film of the same name starring Denzel Washington, was recently hired by CBS All Access to write for Star Trek: Discovery.
That’s strike number one.
Mosely, who’s writing also includes children’s books, plays, and other works, was in the writers’ room at CBS, relating a story that involved a police officer and himself, in order to creatively “juice” the other writers in the room.
During the telling of this story, Mosely, apparently, used the “n-word,” (which, to preserve the sensibilities of our delicate Talkbackers we won’t repeat here, but it’s not “nuance”) to describe how the police officer spoke to him directly and to describe how he responded to the police officer.
That’s strike number two.
Mosely, who identifies strongly (and loudly) as both African American and Jewish, was later called by the H.R. department of CBS and was informed that “someone” in the writers’ room was “made uncomfortable” by his use of the word in the context of relating the anecdote.
He was also informed that he could write the word in a script, but not say it out loud in the writers’ room or anywhere else at CBS.
That’s strike number three.
Mosely, who became a darling of leftists in the 1990’s after Bill Clinton said that Mosley was one of his favorite detective/crime novel authors during his Presidential campaign, quit writing for CBS All Access and the Star Trek: Discovery writing team.
You knew we had to cover this.
1984 Never Mentioned H.R. Departments
There are so many parts about this incident that dovetail with what we wrote about Dave Chappelle and his new stand-up special, Sticks and Stones, that is now getting critically sliced, diced, and ignored by the “woke” folks at Rotten Tomatoes.
But let’s start with the corporate angle.
Mosley has now penned an op-ed in the NY Times (link here) about his experience and makes several logical, dare I say, “Dave Chappelle goes to HR” level practical, points about his experience.
From the NY Times Op-Ed:
I do not believe that it should be the object of our political culture to silence those things said that make some people uncomfortable. Of course I’m not talking about verbal attacks or harassment. But if I have an opinion, a history, a word that explains better than anything how I feel, then I also have the right to express that feeling or that word without the threat of losing my job. And furthermore, I do not believe that it is the province of H.R. to make the decision to keep my accusers’ identities secret. If I’ve said or done something bad enough to cause people to fear me, they should call the police.
But, Mosley still misses the larger mark.
Kind of the way that Khan kept missing Kirk in Wrath of Khan.
Or, the way Progressive creatives miss the mark when they are gotten by people who they think are on their side politically, culturally, and creatively.
The most dangerous people corporations today are politically Progressive, mid-career level human resource employees.
They have long since drunk the Kool-Aid that Mosely, Alice Walker and other politically Progressive creators of their ilk, supported by Hollywood and the corporate media establishment of which CBS is a part of, have poured out to the American culture for the last 70 years.
And because they’ve drunk the Kool-Aid, they believe in social justice, they believe in intersectionality, and they believe that you need to get your mind — and your mouth — right.
Mosely is correct about his individual rights and responsibilities as a creative individual, but he misses his collective contribution (particularly through his Easy Rawlins series of detective novels) to getting the corporate culture to where it is now, by impacting the way people in those roles think and consume his content.
The term “Orwellian” is thrown around with abandon these days. So often that it’s almost lost whatever rhetorical punch it used to have.
But this case is Orwellian.
Your Co-Workers Are Not Your Friends
Remember Les Moonves?
So, let me tell you, the writers’ rooms of all the CBS shows, in addition to the bathrooms, the hallways, the offices, and the meeting rooms of CBS, are all on a hair-trigger, monitoring communications closely for anything that might be offensive, unenlightened or that might create legal exposure of any kind for CBS.
Which gets us to the writer in the room who was “uncomfortable” and, to use Mosley’s term from the Op-Ed, “ratted” him out to H.R.
How many Twitter followers do you think that the writer has?
How many reTweets would an unaddressed by CBS human resources, “Walter Mosley in the writers’ room,” incident get from East and West Coast, like-minded journalists these days?
Mosley’s problem and ours seems two-fold: the offended writer and the human resources department that protects the corporation.
But, in the end, the problem is really about one thing:
The Lack Of Adults In The Room
Adults inform other adults about the harsh realities of life, the world, and everything else, and expose other adults to truths that aren’t always palatable.
Adults work with other adults that they may not like (or agree with) in order to accomplish goals, they may not always care about, in as expedient a fashion as possible.
And, adults make sure that society, civilization, and culture continue under the aegis of creativity, courage, and freedom, and don’t seek to squash its growth under the ever-expanding, Orwellian banner of the things you can’t say.
Dave Chappelle, Walter Mosley, and others need to be championing the return of adults to our workplaces, our governments and our cultures.
Otherwise, we all better button up, because Stan from H.R. is calling.