Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Former Letterman Writer Reveals Sexist Frat Boy Culture at Late Night

Over at Vanity Fair, Nell Scovell talks about the sexual politics and "hostile work environment" that she experienced as a former writer for David Letterman. Never mind that women who take these jobs should be given hazard pay, Nell Scovell belongs to a rare club. She is one of 7 women writers hired by the David Letterman Boys Club in 27 years!

Oh, but we're making progress, right? Um, no. The number of women writers currently working on the 3 hot late night comedy shows combined is "exactly zero." It makes sense. The late night shows are and always have been hosted only by men. As long as the planet revolves around men, the planet will revolve around men. At least, until they burn it up.

According to Scovell's theory, keeping women writers unemployed is about keeping the writers' room safe for "fart jokes and jerking-off-to-Angelina-Jolie’s-face-on-a-magazine jokes." In other words, it's about maintaining the patriarchy, aka the culture's mindless lowlife frat boy status quo.

Letterman and Me - snippets:

At this moment, there are more females serving on the United States Supreme Court than there are writing for Late Show with David Letterman, The Jay Leno Show, and The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien combined. Out of the 50 or so comedy writers working on these programs, exactly zero are women. It would be funny if it weren’t true.

There’s a subset of sexual harassment called sexual favoritism that, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, can lead to a “hostile work environment,” often “creating an atmosphere that is demeaning to women.” And that pretty much sums up my experience at Late Night with David Letterman.

I was the second female writer ever hired at Late Night. When I applied for the job in 1988, I had no way of knowing how much the odds were stacked against me. In 27 years, Late Night and Late Show have hired only seven female writers. These seven women have spent a total of 17 years on staff combined. By extrapolation, male writers have racked up a collective 378 years writing jokes for Dave. .

See: Rachel Sklar: Nell Scovell Is My New Hero -- Nell Scovell has . . created the TV series Sabrina, the Teenage Witch and has written for Coach, Murphy Brown, Monk, N.C.I.S., Charmed, The Critic, The Simpsons and Newhart. Also see: Melissa McEwan, James Joyner and Ed Driscoll.