This is the rare case where I want to pull a piece of a comment thread out front, since it deals with the actual purpose — the roots — of this blog.
Click here to catch up on the original thread. Click here to read the original Los Angeles Times report — still being promoted at the newspaper’s entertainment page online — that we are attempting to discuss, among the usual diversions into religion and politics.
See let us begin:
I don’t think Terry was using “elite” as a code word for gays and Jews, but a common theme in late 19th and 20th century anti-Semitic writings was to portray Jews as an elite trying to undermine Christian values, and a more recent trend among anti-Semites is to gripe about the Jews who control Hollywood.
Terry, I don’t think you’re a bigot, but really, you need to be aware of the implications of your words.
Posted by Avram at 10:31 pm on December 15, 2005
Adding to Avram’s point, adding to the Jews as “elites who control Hollywood” has been the recent addition of gays into a similar code and smear. It is fairly common theme among the more anti-gay social conservative organizations.
Posted by Michael at 11:04 pm on December 15, 2005
The word “elite” has been used in media-bias research since the late 1970s, where I encountered it in graduate studies at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.
Let’s say you are studying the beliefs of seminary professors.
If you attempt a study of all seminary professors, in general, that is one thing.
If you then separate out the professors at the top 10 ranked seminaries in the nation, the second study is called an “elite” study.
If you are studying the entertainment industry and you attempt — somehow — to study everyone who works in it, that is one thing.
If you attempt to study only those who have reached the level of Academy voters, studio heads, etc., then the second study is called an “elite” study.
Yes, there are people out there who say that EVERYONE in Hollywood constitutes a kind of ELITE in the wider American context. I think that is too vague a use of the word and, thus, I never do that. I think we should stay close to the definition that has been around for several decades.
As you have seen, GetReligion takes the same approach on the use of words such as “fundamentalist.”
And, as always, note that Avram and Michael do not address my concern about their smears on the views of those they oppose.
To site one example:
I wrote, in the comments section: If these voting pools — the subjects of the reports referenced — do not constitute an “elite” as studied by many scholars, etc., then what groups will?
Avram replies: Er, what? What does this even mean? What scholars are you talking about?
Read the words that I wrote: “voting pools.” I am talking about the people who vote on the Globes and the Oscars.
The subject of the LA Times story was concern about the impact of the Golden Globes nominations, which, you may have noticed, range far wider than the “Brokeback Mountain” pep rally issue. (Click here for an interesting Washington Post feature that includes all of the talking points on the left side of this story.)
The word “elite” is a perfectly good word, whether used by a Ben “The Media Monopoly” Bagdikian to describe conservate corporate elites or by E. Stanley Lichter to describe journalistic elites in the nation’s most powerful newsrooms.
Once again, it really does help if those leaving comments take the time to read the views of the people they are slamming. And it really helps if they respond to the posts that are written, rather than to the ones that they imagine were written. It really helps if you — you in this case meaning the tag team of Michael and Avram — address the issues at the heart of this blog, rather than turning everything into arguments about theology or politics.
Our goal here is fair and accurate coverage of a diverse culture, on left and right. I realize that some of our readers oppose this, because some of you see the people on the cultural right as not being worthy of coverage that accurately reflects their beliefs. You are not willing to tolerate those you consider intolerant. There are many MSM journalists who are in favor of your approach and many who are not. This debate inside many newsrooms is the subject of this blog. We are in favor of old-fashioned, American model of the press journalism that seeks accurate coverage of a wide range of groups. We are pro diversity.
Now, dare I ask: What did readers actually think of the Los Angeles Times article? Do you have any response at all to what I actually wrote about, which is the debate within Hollywood about the blowback from the Globes and the Oscars to come?
A note to the comments crowd: Please drop the “conspiracy” talk in this discussion. No one is alleging a conspiracy in Hollywood. There is no need for a conspiracy when a very high percentage of a community — let’s say Oscar voters — favor a particular position on a controversial moral/cultural/religious issue. What we are dealing with here is the opposite of a conspiracy. When the likes of Steve Martin or Robin Williams joke about this, they are simply talking about the normative worldviews in the creative community in which they live and work.
Another late note: A crucial point I forgot to include. In all parts of life, “Elites” hold more power than their numbers would seem to allow. They define what is normative for the industry and, most of all, they define what one needs to do and belief to ENTER THE ELITE (to move up in the power and financial chain). Anyone who has worked in a newsroom knows this. In media theory, it is referred to as the “gatekeeper” effect.