I read the March 13, 2016, Wall Street Journal article “Lawsuit Sparks Soul-Searching on Madison Avenue Over Diversity: Recent missteps and allegations paint unflattering portrait of the ad industry” by Suzanne Vranica and Nathalie Tadena with a sinking heart.
The article begins:
Madison Avenue has long tried to move beyond the 1960s image of the advertising world depicted in the popular TV series “Mad Men,” with its sexist jokes, office affairs and nearly all-white workforce.
But a series of recent incidents and allegations paints an unflattering portrait of the industry, highlighting the lack of gender and racial diversity that still exists in the advertising and marketing business.
The article includes a mention of a newly filed lawsuit:
Last week, the male chief executive of ad agency J. Walter Thompson, whose clients include Kimberly-Clark Corp. and Macy’s Inc., was sued for alleged discrimination by a female subordinate who accused him of an “unending stream of racist and sexist comments, as well as unwanted touching.”
As a long-time feminist I have been fighting against this male locker-room behavior and sexual harassment for a long time. In fact, I recently found in my files an unpublished fiction short story I wrote in 1992 entitled “Equal Opportunity.” I wrote this story after reading the May 16, 1991, article “‘Work Environment’ Bias Claim on Trial” in The Wall Street Journal by Amy Dockser Marcus and Milo Geyelin that started:
A trial that began this week in Duluth, Minn. tests a claim by women mine workers that their work environment subjects all of them to illegal sexual harassment.
Clearly 25 years later in 2016 we haven’t come very far.
Now about fictional portrayals:
This weekend I saw the new limited-release film HELLO, MY NAME IS DORIS starring Sally Fields, which is getting very good reviews and is a cute film.
While some of the press coverage praises the fact that this is a film about a woman in her 60s played by an actor in her 60s, I am uneasy at some aspects of that portrayal. The character Doris does not even know how to use Facebook! And the reason this portrayal concerns me is that so many people assume that seniors do not get tech, which is very unfair to a large percentage of seniors. (See my proposed project www.SeniorsGetTech.com)
One of the movies whose trailer screened before the showing of DORIS was Black Label Media’s DEMOLITION. I was upset to view in the trailer a scene of a lead character sliding down an outside banister. As I have written before, my first cousin slid down a banister in college, fell off the banister, and never walked again. This is very risky behavior to encourage.
(For more about such dangerous portrayals see my posts “Sensitivity to Others: In Fiction and Real Life” and “Fictional Portrayals Impact More Than Gender and Diversity Issues”)
And putting that scene in the trailer for DEMOLITION is even worse than just having it in the movie — many more people will presumably be exposed to the trailer than to the actual movie.
FYI — I plan to tweet the link to this blog post to Black Label Media’s Twitter account in the hope that the production company will at a minimum remove the sliding-down-the-banister clip from the trailer. (Oh, no, I just saw that the banister clip is being used in social media by Fox Searchlight to promote the film.)
In conclusion, in real life or fiction, it is important to treat people respectfully!
© 2016 Miller Mosaic LLC
Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller) has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School and is the author of fiction and nonfiction books/ebooks. Phyllis is available by skype for book group discussions and may be reached at email@example.com
Her Kindle fiction ebooks may be read for free with a Kindle Unlimited monthly subscription — see www.amazon.com/author/phylliszimblermiller — and her Kindle nonfiction ebooks may also be read for free with a Kindle Unlimited monthly subscription — see www.amazon.com/author/phylliszmiller