Are The Young Turks Losing Their Soul?

Everyone kept telling me that I needed to write about this and I wanted to right away, but I wanted to do it in a way that didn’t just flat out cast a shadow on this place, because despite it’s shortcomings, I know it is trying to do some good in the world.

A few months ago I started a contracted temp-to-permanent job with The Young Turks. For those who don’t know, The Young Turks is an American news and commentary YouTube show. Its stance is claimed progressive and the hosts provide commentary on topics of varying news genres. It was created by Cenk Uygur, Ben Mankiewicz and Evan Wagner and currently co-hosted mainly by Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian.

According to their website, the AHD definition of a “young turk” is a young, progressive or insurgent member of an institution, movement or political party or a young person who rebels against authority or societal expectations. So I am sure you can imagine with this in mind, while claiming the label of a progressive, a lot of their commentary is of the typical to anti-establishment, pro-98% rhetoric.

As someone who worked in a local news station where crime and bad news was the daily dosage of mental stimulation, this was a breath of fresh air. Though the majority of my duties were not dedicated to the main show, I was only supposed to have a helping hand in the process as far as preparing the show and researching information.

My first few days were bumpy, as one could expect in starting out in a new job with new people already established in their positions. I was eager to please. I asked my Executive Producer of any tasks that needed to be done when I had down time. I was supposed to be a producer’s assistant to Ana, so I bombarded her daily with “how can I help you” questions. After the first week, I could see that I was becoming a nuisance. Every time I asked “is there anything else I can do for you? Is there anything you need researched?”, I’d get a tightly grinned response of “no”.

However, I did not want it to be said that I was not doing my job, so I found others on the team to help. I increased my skill set so if someone was out for the day, I could pick up the slack without anyone missing a beat. Then one day, after being there about 3 weeks, I found myself with nothing to do and asked Ana again if there was anything more she needed of me. It was then she requested that I stop asking her this question and if she needed something from me, whether research or the like, she would ask me. It was then, I knew I indeed was bugging her. So as requested, I stopped asking.

Allow me to interject here that there is a daily meeting that happens where the hosts, reporters, and producers get together and go over the topics that will be talked about during the broadcast that day. I was required to go to these daily meetings. My first day, Ana did not notice me in the office to inform me of when and where the meeting was and did not mention my absence from the meeting until it was over. I was then given the needed information that the meeting occurring everyday at 10 AM. The next day, ready for the meeting with the stories I received to print out for Ana, 10 AM rolls by. Then 11 AM. Then 12 PM. That’s when the meeting started. No one who attends the meeting was in office before then.

Then the next day, I was sent the email I needed to print out the potential stories for the meeting. It didn’t matter because Ana was not there. I was not informed until I asked. I understood that I was a new face to be recognized, a new name and pathway that information had to be relayed to. Though, that 1 meeting I attended on my second day was the only meeting I ever attended. Not one meeting ever started at 10 AM. The meeting started whenever everyone who needed to be in the meeting just happen to show up in the office and, because of my position, sometimes that was when I was in the studio as the Associate Producer to one of TYT Network’s other shows. There were even times when the meeting was going on during a time I could have attended, but Ana did not see fit to make me aware that the meeting was even happening. The reason I chose her to blame and not any other person in the meeting is because after some investigation, supposedly no one else but her knew that I was supposed to be in the meetings.

I had the task of printing out the new articles for the stories of the main show Ana was doing. I only received the email to do so 2 or 3 times a week. So when I was approached and asked “did you print out my stories today” or “why didn’t you print out my stories today”, my only response was “you didn’t send them to me”. This became more of a problem after I was informed I would only do something for Ana when asked. She spoke not 1 word to me after she told me that. She never requested a print out, I stopped receiving her emails, she didn’t ask me to research topics or information for her, and she certainly wasn’t the kind of person that said “hi” when she walked by. All the research I did was for other members of the team and that wasn’t always a lot, so I focused my energies toward an avenue that appreciated my dedication; my Executive Producer Amir.

I spent my time developing and improving the 3 other TYT Network shows I had on my plate, since I was not being utilized by Ana. I stilled helped on the main show with graphics and filling out the rundown, but that work didn’t start until 2 or 3 PM anyway. Even while on vacation over the Christmas holiday, I spent time online posting for my shows. It was something that I enjoyed to do, and since Ana was not, whether intentional or not, speaking with me AT ALL, I spent all my time in office focused on the other shows.

It got to the point to where my Exec could go to meetings or take care of other business during studio time because he trusted that I knew what I was doing on my own and I felt trusted and was excited at the growth. I could feel myself developing. I was getting to know the people around me, some faster than others, some more than others. I could see myself gaining the authority I needed to control a set and move things along and keep talent on track.

I was coming up with ideas to help. I was meeting new and exciting people every week. I was doing this all at a company that I had grown to respect because of what it claimed it stood for. Sure it had its office drama, name an office that doesn’t. Yes, they could have handled things better, there always is a better way.

Then came the time I had to start asking the question of whether or not my temp position would become a permanent one. By the looks of what I was accomplishing and the praise I was getting, it was a no-brainer: I was at TYT to stay…or so I thought. I got in contact with my temp agency and requested that as soon as they found out whether or not I was being kept on to let me know and sure enough the next day I was called and told I was not being kept. Out of curiosity, I asked if he was told why. He gave me 2 reasons:

(1) Ana complained that I did not attend the meetings as I was told to. The meetings that I was not given a proper commencement for and the few times I was made aware, it was when I was in the studio and could not attend.

(2) Ana complained that I was not giving her the help that she needed. The same woman who I tried to help so much that it bugged her to the point she told me to stop asking to help and that she would come to me if she needed it, only to LITERALLY never speak to me again. Though, when I returned for vacation, I saw that we had an intern that she was frequently asked for help on many things. (Also, when I brought this point up to a co-worker their first response was “but wasn’t SHE the one who told you to stop asking her and that she’d come to you if she needed help?”, proving that not only did she say it, but loud enough for others to hear).

So after telling me these reasons, I was told that I was going to have a meeting with my supervisor and Exec for them to tell me whether or not I was going to be kept on. They were not aware of my request to know of my fate beforehand until later. I, personally, didn’t want to go in with a question mark on my face. So instead, I went into the meeting wondering why we needed such pomp to be told that I’m not getting kept on because Ana complained about shortcomings that only existed because of her lack of communication. Interesting enough, I was not told any of this in the meeting.

The first thing talked about was their new awareness that I was told of the decision before the meeting. Then came the standard break up routine, which in terms of a job is never a good thing. I was told how great of an asset I was, how much I’ve developed since I started, my contributions to the shows that were for the better, hell it was almost as if I was given the wrong information and they were actually keeping me! Then came the big BUT. And what I was told was WAY worse than the reasons before. They told me that they were going to dispel my position altogether and replace it with an internship.

This was upsetting on many levels for many reasons.

  1. You’re telling me a different story as to why you’re getting rid of me. It’s either because you don’t have the balls to say to my face what Ana said or you knew what she said was bullshit and didn’t see it worth bringing up (which is okay in my book).
  2. You just told me all these great things I was doing only to tell me you’re not keeping me. So was what I did not good enough? I was doing all I did while only getting paid half…you read right HALF…of what everyone else was getting paid, if not less.
  3. You pretty much just told me that I do good work (as someone who’s been working in this business for 7 years I better) but you think you can get a fresh out of college, doe-eyed INTERN to do that same thing!? What kind of slap-in-the-face compliment is THAT!?
  4. This company has just shit on EVERYTHING it stood for. The underdogs, the 98%, those beaten down by the establishment!? How more hypocritical can you get then taking away a job from an admittedly qualified, hard-worker to give to an intern? This I expect from a corporation, the thing you claim to be against. This I expect from a large, soulless production company, the thing you claim to be against. This I don’t expect from you. As businesswoman, I totally got it. To make a profit you have to do business things. Why pay someone to do a job you can get someone else to do for less, or free, right?

As my final days came and I started to say goodbye, I was asked why I was leaving. I simply told the truth. It was not my choice and my position was getting dissolved to an internship and everyone’s reaction was the same:

I thought this place was supposed to be different.

That’s the kind of stuff this place is supposed to be against.

How do they think this makes us look? Our reputation is a lie.

More and more I could see in people’s eyes coming to the realization that The Young Turks were starting to become the profit-driven business it condemned on the daily basis. Some I talked to even knew what it became or was becoming before I was even there, but it was apparent, somewhere along the way The Young Turks lost its soul. The worst part is, is that I think it’s happening under their noses and they don’t even realize it and those that do don’t have the power to repair it.

I appreciate everything I learned there and the people I met, but I wouldn’t go back if I had the chance. I’d rather work for a company that knows what it is than one where the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing.

Film Analysis 2016

It’s that time of the year again where I look into the originality of Hollywood. There has been a lot of words being thrown around these past few years about the content that Hollywood was shoving down our throats, not that we we’re complaining much.

As much as I want to agree with everyone saying that Hollywood has run out of good ideas and fresh ideas, my [snapshot] research proves otherwise.

For those that haven’t read one of my yearly analysis, I take the top 20 grossing in the US and break down several information aspects of what I find to provide a windowed look into what we as an audience are receiving. I then compare it to previous years and present the trending data.

So, this year’s top 20 earning films are as follows:

Rank Movie Distributor Genre MPAA 2016 Gross
1 Finding Dory Walt Disney Adventure PG $486,295,561
2 Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Walt Disney Adventure PG-13 $424,987,707
3 Captain America: Civil War Walt Disney Action PG-13 $408,084,349
4 The Secret Life of Pets Universal Adventure PG $368,384,330
5 The Jungle Book Walt Disney Adventure PG $364,001,123
6 Deadpool 20th Century Fox Action R $363,070,709
7 Zootopia Walt Disney Adventure PG $341,268,248
8 Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Warner Bros. Action PG-13 $330,360,194
9 Suicide Squad Warner Bros. Action PG-13 $325,100,054
10 Doctor Strange Walt Disney Adventure PG-13 $230,107,790
11 Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Warner Bros. Adventure PG-13 $224,125,258
12 Moana Walt Disney Adventure PG $210,046,114
13 Star Wars Ep. VII: The Force Awakens Walt Disney Adventure PG-13 $194,453,283
14 The Revenant 20th Century Fox Adventure R $182,317,546
15 Sing Universal Adventure PG $166,497,820
16 Jason Bourne Universal Action PG-13 $162,192,920
17 Star Trek Beyond Paramount Pictures Adventure PG-13 $158,848,340
18 X-Men: Apocalypse 20th Century Fox Action PG-13 $155,442,489
19 Trolls 20th Century Fox Adventure PG $150,336,646
20 Kung Fu Panda 3 20th Century Fox Adventure PG $143,528,619

Right off the bat you can see a repeating name. Walt Disney. As the second largest media conglomerate in the world it only makes sense that it has taken 40% of the the top 20 spots.

As far as genre goes there are only 2 that appear on the list at all. Adventure takes 70% of the movies with 14 titles and Action takes the other 30%.

Now the whole point of this:

As you can see from the graph, 50% of the movies from the years top 20 grossing films were unoriginal made, whether from being a remake or adaptation. Also, 5% of films were unoriginal sequels, meaning they are sequels to movies. This brings the years total to being 55% unoriginal. So more than half of what we were giving in mainstream entertainment was something that we’ve seen, read, or been written already before.

I like to compare by decade to see how things have changed over a 10 year period. So 2006 looks like:

See the difference? Here 50% of what was given to us was original first-time content and 10% were original sequels, totaling 60% in original content, meaning 40% in unoriginal content. So in a decade span from 2006 to 2016 original content dropped from 60% to 45%. Now does this mean that these are the numbers of what Hollywood is making? No. What this means is these are the numbers of what Hollywood is making AND what WE ARE PAYING FOR. The top 20 is based on what we spent money to buy a ticket for and watch in a theater throughout the year. So as a side note, you can’t criticize the content being shoved down your throat if you keep opening your mouth to accept it.

Now for those of you who call themselves different, before you go all “SEE I TOLD YOU SO” with your peers, here is another graph for you:

As you can see from the data I have been gathering for the past few years, 2014 was the worst year for anyone with a creative mind (probably meaning 2012 or 2013 because of how long the movie making process is). I can imagine people getting upset over the freshness of content especially when 2013 had a 55% originality rate and plummets to 10% for 2014. However, in the past 2 years originality has risen steadily to the 45%. Not the best of numbers and still 10% behind 2013 scores, but going in the right direction.

Who should we blame for these rises and falls of numbers?

Can we blame Hollywood execs that green-light these projects? Yes, we can, but how much blame can they get for doing their jobs. Hollywood is a giant, not well oiled but still squeaking along machine and they are making money from it.

Can we blame ourselves? Yes, we can. As the audience they give us what they know we’ll consume. These films get high numbers because we make them high. A film winning an Oscar of Golden Globe, that’s determined by a small group of people, but gross profit, that’s on us. They’re making money off what we complain about but still seem to heavily take in.

Can we blame the industry gate-keepers, who ever they may be? Yes, we can. This inclusive industry has been closed off for the privileged and with a limited number minds comes limited content. Every so often a new member is added and some content gets refreshed, but not nearly as fast as it should be. Why is this? Everything has a occupancy limit. There are actors and actresses that have been in the business a long time and companies and executives are shrinking the welcome mat every time they force a role change to adhere to an already established celebrity to appear in a film as an added selling point. I get it, stuff popular names into a film and the people will watch it. It’s just like when you see a new actor or actress in a role and does well, then they’re popping up in a new movies every few months. The industry focuses so hard on one target and squeezes them until they are used up and dry. That’s where they are going wrong.

In no other industry does the owner focus on one asset for long. In farming, you rotate your plots so you always have a fertile spot and can give the previous spot time to rest and recharge to come back stronger. In health, you vary up what you eat day to day because if you ate the same thing every day you’d eventually get sick of it. In fitness, you change up your workout so your muscles don’t get to used to your routine. In entertainment, they do the same thing. The scripts have the same pacing, same blocking (to the point where most movies can be predicted from start to finish without watching it), and same list of typical characters. When one person does something courageous, they next person doesn’t say “I’m making that next step”, they say “I’m going to do exactly what they did because it worked”! No one wants to put risk in this beautiful art form anymore and because of that we’re getting these monotonous, formula, step-by-step movies that just gets played on repeat.

We’re the only ones that can fix it, but we’ll  see how this next year goes.

All info from: www.the-numbers.com

L.A. cherry popped

I’m sure you can imagine how excited I was when I got my first Production Assistant job in L.A. To find out that it was for Wheel of Fortune was pretty awesome too.

There were many things running through my head. I knew that this would determine how I was seen in the industry. Even if it wasn’t as influential as I thought, it was more so how I would see myself surviving in this industry.

Overall, it was an awesome experience. I did my best and tried to be as helpful as I could and that’s all I could as of myself.

Yes it did

After reading through maybe 30 pages of the story, I figured i had a good idea of what it was starting to be about and whether I’d like to work on it.

I liked the story and thought it would be something cool to work on and help with.

I go back for a follow-up business meeting and things go from mildly weird to severe creep-out.

So I arrive, thinking that I have a nice handle on the gist of the story, NOPE! When he finds I only read 30 pages he goes into saying how that I don’t know enough to even have a conversation about it. Understandable. When you have a project you’ve spent time of your life on and you bring someone in to work with you, you want them to know about it as much as you do, but that’s not realistic after 1 day of a trial run.

So we get into more of what my job would be and what I would do for the story. He considered knowing about the various types of anime in order to work on his stuff. I don’t know why because it was sci-fi related, but my limited, scattered knowledge apparently could be over looked, but was mentioned several times.

This segues to the topic of animations and what he’d want his comics to develop into. Then, compliments of my voice. Then suggests I should get into acting. Then the compliments about me in general start again. I take them in stride, but quickly and obviously take the conversation back to BUSINESS, the reason I’m there.

Long story short, and trying not to get slapped by my mother, he continued to make the meeting more awkward and inappropriate.

Between him feeling the need to show me a folder of sketches that included real-life photos of porn (to further his statement made earlier about how he prefers bigger women), him continuously offering me drugs to partake in, his need to make it known that he expects people around him to accept his lifestyle choices (but make obvious judgement comments to others), and his complete judgment presence in general.

I know what you’re thinking: Why the hell did you stay that long for that much to go wrong? As a single, young female in a city you just got to with a man you met in a bar that’s more than twice your age, that’s not too smart. Where here’s the thing. It was supposed to be a business opportunity. Either I was duped and he never wanted to conduct business or he has a HORRIBLE idea what a business relationship is. Also, it was quite interesting to see how a man was when he was consistently sexual harassing a woman despite her obvious discomfort. It was a new experience for me.

I left with an email sent to me to read a short story to start working on things. I left with the knowledge that I would not ever return to that place.

The next day, I updated my Facebook status. It said: “I’m starting to realize that I REALLY don’t like getting hit on, feeling – creeped out.” This was referring to many things and it meant many things.

While with friends, I was hit on by a VERY drunk older man who kept following me around and after he FINALLY got the idea to leave me alone, his just a old friend did the same thing.

The situation with this dude was another thing.

The status meant, I don’t like getting hit on my creepy old guys. To me old is 35+ when it comes to try to get with someone my age. I don’t like getting hit on by strangers. I prefer to have people I’ve seen more than once to do it.

After that status, out of the blue, I get a message that says: “If that status was about me, message received, and thanks.”

He took it upon himself to delete me from Facebook, before knowing for sure what was going on.

I tell him that the status wasn’t necessarily about him, but if he felt that the way he acted deserved such a response than that was his decision to think it was about him.

In either case, he is NOT someone I want to work with.

 

Did That Just Happen?

As a military child, you get used to moving around, but you also get used to meeting people through various programs and the more obvious reason, school. My move here I was an adult with not many ties (some family and a friend for Jacksonville, FL the ODDS right!?) already out here. How do adults make friends? A bar never seems like a good place. Do I just walk up and say, HEY I’M NEW! BE MY FRIEND!? (that has worked a couple times though).

Thanks to the advice of my beauty consultant I got at Sephora during my first official visit (these dark marks aren’t going to cover themselves), I downloaded the MeetUp app to start meeting people.

Sword fighting, rock climbing, bowling, and most importantly entertainment networking. I’ve met a lot of people in the pat month I’ve been out her. Of all of them, there has been 1 weird experience and 1 awkward turtle moment.

Starting with the shortest story, the awkward turtle moment was going to bar trivia. It was with 1 person from previous meetups and 4 strangers. Needless to say, bar trivia is not fun to me, a loud bar is not a good place to gather strangers to try a socialize, and I can start at a brick wall for 30 minutes without losing it.

NOW! This weird moment I had starts back to my first weekend here. I went to a club where I knew (through Facebook) the DJ and wanted to see her spin. I went alone, because I didn’t know anyone to invite, my Jax friend was at another club, and my roommates were busy. I’m standing next to a guy in line to get in, casual conversation happens.

Later on, he invites me to join him and his friend, we talk more. Turns out he writes/draws comics and was looking to replace someone who worked for him, but she wasn’t living up to her end of the deal in helping him with the product. During the club scene, he’s being nice and flirty (I figure vodka, it does that to ya). I ignore his advances and lines and he points it out. Good job, sir. You’ve won the prize! He leaves it alone. He and his friend eventually leave and my friend shows up. Meeting 1 – You seem nice, offer a business proposition, and flirt and know when to stop when they’re not interested.

A couple of weeks later, we have mad plans for a business lunch to go over sketches and what my responsibilities would be and if I’d be a good fit with what he was looking for. Meeting goes well, I get a sample of what the work relationship might be like. He tells me he wants to work with an open-minded person who’ll except the way he lives and won’t let it conflict how they treat him.

He claims he’s a practicing witch? Sure, do you, I don’t care. That won’t stop me from making money. His story is interesting and he clearly has a lot of talent. Now the left turn comes in when he sort of starts hitting on me again, but in a subtle way that makes you think, ‘maybe they’re just a flirty person’, so when the meeting ends I see no harm an any of it. I’m not going to get mad at a man who compliments me.

I get an email with the comic story laid out for me to read some of to see if this is a project I would like to work on….

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