2007. The Macho Filmmaking Culture: Real Men Don’t Save Lives

While many crew members are now college educated, with middle-class backgrounds, on the set there’s an almost “over-macho” spirit, a joining in to the working class ethic.  This is part of a larger issue common to unionized men in traditionally male work enclaves:

“Convinced that staying employed is contingent on completing work within tight timeframes set by supervisors and inordinately compelled to be esteemed the only “real men” deserving of steady [work, white men frequently feel] compelled or chose to ignore and compromise safety and health regulations designed to protect all … workers including themselves.  In so doing, [they] put themselves and the labor movement in harm’s way.” (Royster 2007:453).

Scholar Kris Paap talks about this behavior giving them the sense of being “real men,” and occurring at the cost of the real power they could gain as active participants in the shared power of collective bargaining (Royster 2007:454).

In part as a result of this, “fatal accidents and serious injuries still occur with astonishing frequency on film and TV sets.”  The official entertainment industry injury and fatality statistics are relatively low compared with other industries because entertainment statistics also include thousands of people who work in offices. Rana Plat-Petersen, the business representative for the Motion Picture Studio First Aid Employees, discusses the fact that injuries are under-reported because of the testosterone-heavy atmosphere on film sets, “They’re macho guys… They won’t report an injury. You basically have to drag it out of them.”  According to Louis Therrien, an independent safety consultant in Pasadena, people are afraid to speak up. “You’re looking at a whole production company sitting there, and you’re going to tell them they’re going to have to wait and do something different?….That’s time and money” (Longwell 2002). 

In addition, the “macho” culture diverts the energy of would-be protesters from other real issues.

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