Written By October/November 2009 : Page 2

fAde in letters the MAGAzine of the Writers Guild of AMericA, West old White Male For the readers and Guild Members who seem fixated on counting the OWMs (Old White Males) featured in the magazine, the August/Septem- ber 2009 issue must have been a real treat, since I only saw one OWM in the first 40 pages. As an OWM, should I cry ageism or merely wonder whether Written By should have a more em- bracing name, like Pressured By? In my 33 years in the WGA, the Guild has steadily increased its membership of non-OWMs, often because the sea of progressive OWMs welcomed the change, even urged it, and acted as mentors to minority and un- derrepresented writers so they could get their voices heard. What people have failed to realize in this debate is that writers who choose to see themselves by their gender or skin color or national- ity limit themselves to the universal possibilities of their art and craft. Are the great television shows of the 1950s through the 1980s being watched today simply because they only have an OWM viewpoint, or because they have qualities and experiences that children and young adults recognize in their lives today? Most of those who point to someone as an OWM seem to have the same prejudices they claim to fight against. To them, OWM means privileged and noninclusive. For me, I grew up in Central Pennsylvania to Italian immigrant parents who came to America with less than three years of education. My brother convinced my father that “F” meant “Fine” on his report card. There was no privilege, only hard work and a strong family bond. When Sonia Sotamayor was recently selected to the Supreme Court, much was made of her background in the Bronx, born to a family of poor, lightly educated parents. This OWM had the very same experience, but I don’t think I’m any wiser than a Latina. In fact, I know I’m no wiser. If I didn’t, I couldn’t write. For those of you who picture the OWMs sitting in their dens read- ing Steinbeck, Hemingway, Richard Russo, and Ian Fleming, perhaps you’d be surprised to learn that our bookshelves also contain works by Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Walker, James Baldwin, Isabel Allende, Gabriela Mistral, and many other non-OWMs, including even a few novels by Anne Tyler (and please don’t dismiss her as an OWW). We read them because they are good writers with unique world views. If you limit yours, you cease to be a writer. Carmen Finestra E-mail letters to writtenby@wga.org, or fax them to (323) 782-4802. Letters related to Written By articles will be published, space permitting. Letters may be edited for clarity and length, and the editor will select representative content. Opinions expressed in letters to the editor are not necssarily those of the WGAW. 2 • WGAW Written By october/november 2009 W ritten By © WGAW officers President John Wells Vice President tom Schulman secretary-treasurer David n. Weiss WGAW BoArd of directors John F. bowman, Linda burstyn, Ian Deitchman, carleton eastlake, Katherine Fugate, David A. Goodman, Howard michael Gould, mark Gunn, Karen Harris, chip Johannessen, Kathy Kiernan, Aaron mendelsohn, billy ray, Howard A. rodman, Steven Schwartz, Patric m. verrone, Dan Wilcox executive director David Young GenerAl counsel tony Segall WGAW Phone inforMAtion the Guild (All Departments) 323.951.4000 FAx 323.782.4800 WeBsite: WWW.WGA.orG WGAW dePArtMents Administration Agency Awards & elections claims contracts credits dues diversity executive offices film society finance human resources legal library Member services Membership organizing Public Affairs Publications registration residuals signatories theater operations Written By credit union Pension & health Writerscare info. 323.951.4000 782.4520 782.4502 782.4569 782.4663 782.4501 782.4528 782.4531 782.4589 951.4000 782.4508 782.4637 782.4615 782.4521 782.4544 782.4747 782.4532 782.4511 782.4574 782.4522 782.4500 782.4700 782.4514 782.4525 782.4699 323.512.5146 818.840.9220 818.846.1015 800.227.7863 800.890-0288 Written By welcomes your comments. Send letters to: 7000 W. third St., L.A., cA 90048 or e-mail us at writtenby@wga.org

Letters

Old White Male<br /> <br /> For the readers and Guild Members who seem fixated on counting the OWMs (Old White Males) featured in the magazine, the August/September 2009 issue must have been a real treat, since I only saw one OWM in the first 40 pages. As an OWM, should I cry ageism or merely wonder whether Written By should have a more embracing name, like Pressured By? In my 33 years in the WGA, the Guild has steadily increased its membership of non-OWMs, often because the sea of progressive OWMs welcomed the change, even urged it, and acted as mentors to minority and underrepresented writers so they could get their voices heard.<br /> <br /> What people have failed to realize in this debate is that writers who choose to see themselves by their gender or skin color or nationality limit themselves to the universal possibilities of their art and craft.<br /> <br /> Are the great television shows of the 1950s through the 1980s being watched today simply because they only have an OWM viewpoint, or because they have qualities and experiences that children and young adults recognize in their lives today?<br /> <br /> Most of those who point to someone as an OWM seem to have the same prejudices they claim to fight against. To them, OWM means privileged and noninclusive. For me, I grew up in Central Pennsylvania to Italian immigrant parents who came to America with less than three years of education. My brother convinced my father that “F” meant “Fine” on his report card. There was no privilege, only hard work and a strong family bond. When Sonia Sotamayor was recently selected to the Supreme Court, much was made of her background in the Bronx, born to a family of poor, lightly educated parents. This OWM had the very same experience, but I don’t think I’m any wiser than a Latina. In fact, I know I’m no wiser. If I didn’t, I couldn’t write.<br /> <br /> For those of you who picture the OWMs sitting in their dens reading Steinbeck, Hemingway, Richard Russo, and Ian Fleming, perhaps you’d be surprised to learn that our bookshelves also contain works by Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Walker, James Baldwin, Isabel Allende, Gabriela Mistral, and many other non-OWMs, including even a few novels by Anne Tyler (and please don’t dismiss her as an OWW). We read them because they are good writers with unique world views. If you limit yours, you cease to be a writer.<br /> <br /> Carmen Finestra<br /> <br /> E-mail letters to writtenby@wga.org, or fax them to<br /> <br /> (323) 782-4802. Letters related to Written By articles will be published, space permitting. Letters may be edited for clarity and length, and the editor will select representative content. Opinions expressed in letters to the editor are not necssarily those of the WGAW.

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