They’re just behind the “open” doors

Behind every “carefully dressed down” (one of our speakers’ words)  talent in Hollywood, there is a web of suit-and-tie agencies, agents, and assistants negotiating their clients’ next projects.

I never knew the gatekeepers of Hollywood were a phone call away. And they really are, if you know the right people. But for our assignment to interview someone in the industry, I decided to reach out to Hollywood cinematographers without using any connections. I didn’t want it to be easy. It isn’t.

Ari Gold, fictitious superagent.
Ari Gold, fictitious superagent.

I’m researching the collaborative relationship between cinematographers and directors, so I first compiled a list of cinematographers who worked with directors I liked. Being a perfectionist afraid of success, I picked reasonable directors. Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, Christopher Nolan, The Coen Brothers, Martin Scorsese, etc. Bringing my eyes away from IMDb’s database to my notebook,  I realized I had listed 9 of the highest status cinematographers in Hollywood. With access to IMDb Pro, I could call their agents, and after about 30 minutes of staring blankly at the first, general information number, reciting my cold-call introduction in my head, I closed my eyes and pressed call.

Reception: “Hi, (agency’s name) front desk.”

Me: “Hi, my name is Tom Crandall, and I am a third year film student at Colorado College. I am working on a class project examining the creative collaboration between cinematographers and directors and was really interested in several of (agency’s) clients, including _____, ________, __________, and _________. I was curious if there is any way to further get in touch with anyone in (agent’s name’s) office in order to learn more about their work.”

*There are 4 main talent agencies, ICM, UTA, WME, and CAA, who represent talent in LA. Most of the cinematographers I wanted to interview shared the same agent at one of these companies.

Reception: “One moment please, let me transfer you to client information.”

Automated voicemail: “Hi, thank you for contacting (agency’s name) client information. We’re sorry we’re unable to take your call; if you can please leave your client’s name and request, or email your client’s request to clientinformation@(agency’s name).com, we will respond to you as soon as we can. Thank you.”

There is one level in the Nintendo 64 version of Mario where you need to climb an infinite staircase to face a boss. If you try to climb up, you can’t reach the top, and if you turn around, you’ll find you’re right back at the bottom of the stairs again. These infinite stairs were my process of getting in touch with agents’ assistants. I needed to craft every word, accentuate every tone, and arrange every appreciative adjective in order to talk with the next assistant in line.

CAA headquarters.
CAA headquarters.

The general rules: 1) calling is always better than email because it’s harder to say no to a person, and 2) wait 24 hours before calling again. Here was my general “workflow.” Call receptionist, then email client information. No response, wait 24 hours. Call reception to follow up, reach 2nd assistant. “Hi my name is, can I—,” “please send me an email.” Send 2nd assistant email, wait 24 hours. Call 2nd assistant to follow up, “let me see if I can connect you with someone in his office.” Reach first assistant, re-pitch, “Email me your project and I will see what I can do.” Email first assistant, wait 24 hours. Call first assistant to follow up, “I haven’t heard from him yet, usually we can’t give out client information, I’m sorry my hands are tied and I just have to wait for a response.” That was as far as I got without any outside connections; it was still a semi-victory.

To my surprise, I never got flatly rejected, and of all the assistants I spoke with but one were incredibly kind  and helpful over the phone. I could tell from her first “hello” that she was busy, stressed out, and didn’t care to talk with me. It’s humbling to feign self-confidence when my main credentials include “Tom Crandall,” “Colorado College,” “Film Major,” and “class project.” It wasn’t that bad at first– she told me to send her an email. I made sure to read back her address, then hung up. I looked back down at her email and realized I didn’t know if it was right. After trying several spellings, I finally sent it successfully. She responded within 30 minutes; I messed up.

Despite my carefully wording, spacing how many times I said “Thank you so much,” and “if there is anything I can do to help,” or “I really appreciate it” to sound sincere without being annoying, I received her artfully blunt, three sentences response. I wish I could recite it word for word, but I’ll just tell you: I not only misspelled her name, thus mistaking her gender, but also misspelled the client’s name. She made sure that the first words in her email corrected her name first, and then the client’s. As she should; I made two huge mistakes, and was lucky to get any response. She reluctantly forgave me, but told me it’s so easy to check that information online, there should be no reason to make that mistake. She was absolutely right. Always remember names, and always double check grammar.

I didn’t get any interviews cold-calling. Maybe I could have if I didn’t pick such high-status cinematographers. Thankfully, with the help of other connections, I have several people I hope to talk with early next week. It’s not impossible to reach someone through an agency; it sounds that way because I was calling these agencies for only a week. If I had several weeks or months, there is a chance I could speak with somebody. Ultimately, I was surprised to learn what got me in the door most: being a Colorado College student. Without my CC email address, I was just a kid trying to rub shoulders with a famous director. One of the assistants I called went to Boulder, so he immediately appreciated that I go to CC, and did the best he could to help me. Another assistant remembered me for being a CC student. I never believed how much access the words “Colorado College” have, and how much I hope they will help in making future connections.

I’m just now beginning to understand how difficult it is to pitch myself to someone. How can I ask someone to hire me or finance my film if I don’t believe firmly in myself? Like filmmaking, belief in myself and my work is a practice. No doesn’t always mean, “it’s impossible,” it just means, “find another way in.”


Lawrence of Gayrabia and Dial L for Rebecca

Recurring themes in our Hollywood class include censorship, changes in technology, and old white men. A less touched upon theme of this class has been the subtle presence of homosexuality. Even though Hollywood films have for the large part of the twentieth century been very conservative, homosexuality couldn’t be closeted in Hollywood, just like it can’t be closeted in real life (The Celluloid Closet 1995). Many of the films we watched — Rebecca, Lawrence of Arabia, Steamboat Bill Jr., The Children’s Hour, and Rebel Without a Cause — addressed homosexuality on a spectrum of implicitly to explicitly. I decided to watch The Celluloid Closet (1995), a documentary on a timeline of Hollywood’s depiction of homosexuality, to help me understand our films in the context of their times.

Lawrence disrobed.
Lawrence disrobed.

Early Hollywood cinema at times openly portrayed a homosexual relationship. For example, Wings (1927) shows a passionate kiss between two men. However, early Hollywood also punished the aura of homosexuality within effeminate behavior, i.e. the “sissy”, the subliminal homosexual who makes men feel more manly and women more womanly. In Steamboat Billy a running joke is that Buster Keaton’s character (in the immortal words of Mean Girls) is “too gay to function”. He’s not actually gay, but his puffy pants, ukelele, and habit of signaling his lapel flower to men indicate that he might be. To put everyone in the film and the audience at ease, he is straight-washed of his moustache, beret, and instrument.

With the Hays Code, references to homosexuality had to be closeted. Apparently, because homosexuality was so subtly included within the Hays days, the dodo bird censors couldn’t pick up on it. This period also led to the emergence of the “obsesive psycho homosexual”: Rebecca (1940) and Rebel Without a Cause (1955) both feature this archetype. In Rebecca it’s the malevolent Mrs. Danvers aka Danny. She is rightfully creepy, popping up unexpectedly, unsmilingly, and androgynously. She is obsessed with Rebecca and preserving Rebecca’s memory. We met with the feminist Hitchcock critic, Tania Modleski, who had us read the end of the novel as compared with the book. In the novel, Danny burns Manderley and then runs off; in the film she burns up in Manderley like a witch on a stake. Similarly to Mrs. Danvers, Plato’s character is portrayed as freaky. The first time we meet him is in juvenile hall after he shot puppies. His obsession with Jim is a result of daddy issues, i.e. his love of Jim stems from the same sickness that caused him to shoot puppies. He also dies at the end. Another case of “the only good homosexual…”

Mrs. Danvers and Rebecca's fur.
Mrs. Danvers and Rebecca’s fur.

Another depiction of homosexuality is that of an incurable curse. The Children’s Hour (1961) was a film that weakened the Hays code by breaking the last taboo: openly depicting a lesbian woman. However, it depicted her in the light of irreconcilable guilt. The film focuses on the homophobia that Karen and Martha experience for being rumored lesbians: they lose their school, their reputation, and Karen loses her fiancé. Martha cannot deal with the guilt of being lesbian and (spoiler alert) hangs herself. In an interview in The Celluloid Closet, Shirley McClaine says she wishes she had portrayed Martha differently: as a woman who fights to embrace her identity.

The end of the Hays Code was not the end of self-censorship. Lawrence of Arabia (1962) depicts glimpses of a homoerotic relationship between Lawrence and Sherif Ali. (It also offers hints of sado-masochism just years after SM became an organized community among male World War II veterans.) However, while we see Ali’s hands going over Lawrence’s back, we do not see anything more explicit.

Perhaps the audience wasn’t ready for it. However, as The Celluloid Closet concludes, studio executives are more conservative than their audiences. They fear the audience will boycott the film and lose them money and their jobs. Therefore, they might argue that it’s best to give the audience the stereotypes of or lack of homosexuality they are used to. However, their catering to the audience’s desire not only closets, but also disfigures representations of people with non-mainstream sexual preferences. As was repeated over and over again in The Celluloid Closet, Hollywood shapes how people think they should act, and how they act toward people who deviate from the norm. Although it is important that homosexuality has been portrayed in films, however subtly, throughout the twentieth century, now is the time for homosexuality to be portrayed openly, in a way that humanizes and de-pathologizes homosexual figures.

Was homosexuality the unstated cause of rebellion?
Was homosexuality the unstated cause of rebellion?


On Location. Tuesday, April 7.

On Tuesday , April 7, on this year of our lord 2015, it rained in Los Angeles.

The rain was a welcome respite from the annoyingly consistent sunshine here in LA. We were finally given a day fit for watching a good movie inside. For us that film was Rebel Without a Cause (1954) featuring the sublimely cool James Dean. But before I go off on a whirlwind of admiration for one of the first teen films–a film that would establish the form for decades to come–I must first bring up a blaring issue with the screening. The audience (my peers) would not stop talking throughout the film. I understand that a lot of the lines and scenarios in the film are now considered cliche and are hard not to laugh at–I am thinking about little Plato’s introduction, when he has been hauled into the precinct for shooting puppies with a handgun. Laugh all you want (I did too). But when an audience tries to talk over a film that is not permissible. I could not help but draw a parallel between my peers watching the film and James Dean sitting in the planetarium “mooing” for laughs over the presentation. It makes me think that maybe the film is still pertinent and not as dead as we all might think. We are all very insignificant. And hearing people try to talk over a film communicating that very emotion is painfully ironic. Anyway, back to the positives, of which there are many.

After the screening we were supposed to take a soothing van ride to the Griffith Observatory to reenact the knife fight scene from Rebel Without a Cause. This was the only point in the day that the rain proved a detriment as we had to stay inside. However, we were still able to practice our knife skills in the apartment, it just lacked a little production value. Instead we spent time with some work written by CC alum Tim Sexton. I cannot reveal any of the intricacies of the work, but we were very much looking forward to meeting with him and pitching some of our own ideas over a glass of beer (or wine, Tim liked wine). The rain stopped and we met Tim. I like to think that our thoughts influenced his. Maybe they didn’t, but there is no doubt our time was well spent. Hearing an artist wrestle with his craft is one of the humbling and leveling experiences. It changed my mood for the rest of the night. I felt light.

Before we left dinner there was a moment of extreme peace. We were in Topanga Canyon, a special place founded by hippies in the 70s, and largely untouched by the turmoil of the city. I was standing next to our trusty van, my eyelids heavy with wine, just trying to calm down after such a hurried introduction to LA. There were tree frogs, mist (not smog), and a coolness that can never be felt in the city. It was a dose of exactly what we all needed. I mean, you probably sensed some of the tension in my opening paragraph and Topanga Canyon took that all away. It was a reset, a very necessary cleanse before embarking on the busiest week we will have while here in LA. I would like to go back there some time and go for a drive, maybe stay for awhile.



What’s in a name?

Tinseltown. The City of Angels. La-La Land. The Big Orange.


These are all nicknames for the city of Los Angeles, a city that is considered to be the creative capital of the world. When I arrived in L.A. for the first time (that I can remember), it was to start my first year at Colorado College. Most people wouldn’t count LAX as “seeing L.A.”, but despite the long immigration lines and confusing airport layout, I definitely felt that the experience counted. When our class first stepped out of the Oakwood, I expected the city to be 90% Hollywood and always full of traffic: I was half-correct. The city is actually sprawling and so much more than celebrity central: Los Angeles is full of museums and other local landmarks that establish a culture outside of the entertainment industry.

Because Los Angeles is known worldwide for its star power, when we were given a free afternoon to explore I decided to walk the Hollywood mile. I had an incredible time discovering stars on the Walk of Fame, and I can attest to at least 20 photos on my phone (what will I do with them? Maybe create a mini photo album of some sort). Yet despite taking advantage of the discounted price tag and exploring the ‘fun’ museums such as Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, I sadly learned that most fun things in Los Angeles are not free – unless you are a local and know where to look. Since we had plenty of time left before returning to the TCM Festival, I chose to take an Uber to The Grove and explore the Farmer’s Market – surely there would be more locals there?

As I walked around the deliciously smelling stalls of the Farmer’s Market, I realized that Los Angeles is a city of people: and by people, I mean persons of every kind. Sure there were tons of tourists, but popping up every once in a while was a person cool as a cucumber (local, or just full of self-confidence? I couldn’t decide). There were definitely more tourists when my aunt drove around Rodeo Drive (easily spotted due to the group nature, pointing at everything, and multitude of camera snaps), but since tourism is one of the biggest economic benefits, who am I to complain?


Based on my experiences in class, Los Angeles is definitely a city worth visiting, even if you’re not one bit interested in who is going to win the next Oscar.

An LA Love Story

Many people’s impression of Los Angeles includes vanity, traffic, and entitlement.  None of the above impressions are wrong, and I can certainly see how this city could leave a bad taste in one’s mouth.  I have been lucky to travel here a couple of times, but staying in a hotel with my mommy and daddy is a lot different than trying to find a job here.  As excited as I was to come spend a month in the sun, I knew that Los Angeles as a life decision is something to approach with trepidation.  That being said, I still got a dumb haircut to fit in. 

That’s me with my dumb haircut and In n’ Out

 As the trip has developed, so have my feelings for LA.  I think I like her. Like, like like her.  Sure.  We’ve sat next to a Lamborghini in traffic, which begs the question of owning and driving a Lamborghini in Los Angeles.  But who cares?  I don’t.  I didn’t even take a picture. That guy made a bad decision.  And sure, traffic is bad, but our professor knows how to drive in Los Angeles and takes us off of the 405 and onto Cahuenga and then on to the 10 so we can skip the traffic on the 101 that stems from construction on Melrose. No matter how much traffic there is, Clay can get around it.  But more importantly, everyone we’ve met seems immune to the traffic.  They’re excited about what they’re doing and couldn’t be happier to share their stories with us. 

Los Angeles traffic?
Los Angeles traffic as seen by locals.

And I’m not just talking about the established Colorado College alums we have met.  Their happiness is understandable, and certainly something to strive for.  What made a more tangible impact on me was a dinner with people who did not have CEO or Head in their title.  The CC alumni office and our professors Dylan Nelson and Clay Haskell put together a party for the 9th anniversary of our amazing class, On Location: Hollywood.  We had the pleasure of meeting young CC alums, most of whom had taken the class, who were just starting their journey in the entertainment industry.  Some were writers, some were in casting, some were acting, and some were working at an agency.  There was even a guy who had created a virtual reality system that would work with an iPhone.

Each alum was open about their experience living in Los Angeles, which inevitably meant that they had a rough six, seven, or eight months fighting to pay for rent and food.  But all of them had come out of it, or were at least were on their way.  One message rang true for all of them.  If I’m not persistent and if I’m not willing to put in the hours, someone else is going to take my spot. All of them had put in the work, and it paid off.  To me, there’s nothing more just or satisfying than that.

So yeah, wading through traffic on Sunset Boulevard sucks, but LA is a city where most people are working hard and want to achieve something. That’s kind of a beautiful thing, and a beautiful thing that I hope to be a part of someday.


Thomas Euyang

Have To Be Here

On Friday, my little sister, Jacci, caught a ride down to LA from where she goes to school in San Luis Obispo. We thought it would be a good idea to take an Über to Santa Monica to go to the beach (the beach was a good idea, not the Über in heavy traffic). There are a lot of people in Los Angeles.


There are a lot of people in Los Angeles because “you have to be here.” This is something we have heard from the people we have visited around Hollywood, from CC alumni trying to get traction in this industry, and from our professors.

Our friend from home, Hannah, met us at the beach. Hannah is a young composer getting her start in LA. She has only been here one year, but has been able to save money by sharing a bed with her older sister, and get jobs assisting big-name composers. Currently she is working with James Horner on a new film, and that’s very cool.

I talked to Hannah for a while about living in LA. We are from a colder, quieter place in Washington with no traffic, and she is an introvert. She did find it hard to live in LA at first, but, of course, “you have to be here.” If there’s anything I’ve learned here it’s that if you want to get into the industry, you’ve got to make the connections, and you can’t do it like you can here – I’ve met sound engineers for big name artists at karaoke bars, songwriters for Danish musicians trying to break into the US scene in the Oakwood hot tub,  and Kenyon connected with a TV screenwriter in line for the water fountain. That kind of thing. Hannah’s doing it right – she’s meeting the right people in the right place, living her dream career. Turns out she is good friends with the son of Guy Moon, whom we got to hang out with on Friday afternoon in his studio.

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Vanity Fair West Coast Editor Krista Smith advised us to “have goals, but keep going — things change.” Many of us realize that though we have the goal of becoming a director, a writer, or a producer, those aren’t jobs that you just get out of college. Krista told us, “There are many stages to a career – life has very very very many incarnations.” Harrison Ford was a carpenter until he was cast as Han Solo. I think Charles Bradley was like 63 when he released his first album. That kind of thing. That advice is both reassuring and exciting to me.


Love and Vengeance

The intersecting themes of family and violence in The Godfather bring up interesting moral questions.  Don Corleone seems to see himself as an honorable man who values family above all else.  He shows his deep family values by involving his family in a feud against another family that gets various members of both families killed.  He is the godfather to many, and gladly includes his extended family in the cycle of killing as well.  The beneficiaries of Don Corleone’s family values are indoctrinated into a seemingly inescapable cycle of irrational violence.  Instead of protecting and supporting his family like his title suggests, Godfather Corleone is dooming them all to kill and be killed.


They're all doomed.
They’re all doomed.

Michael, Don Corleone’s son, tried to stay away from the violent world that his father created for him, but ended up getting sucked into a plot to avenge an attack on his dad.  Though Don Corleone hoped that Michael could dissociate from the family “business,” Michael ends up getting involved in defense of Don Corleone’s honor.  Each new generation gets sucked into the violence when love takes the form of vengeance. And the cycle propels itself forward as both sides are constantly seeking revenge.  Can’t they understand that a Corleone death is just as tragic to the Corleone family as a Barzini death is to the Barzini family? Both sides are living in constant fear and tragedy for no reason that I can see (except that it makes a great film).

To me, this is a film about the irrationality of violence.  The sides are arbitrarily assigned; you are born Corleone or Barzini. In the Crips hood or the Bloods hood. Israel or Palestine. Neither side is inherently better than the other. But both sides are convinced of the other’s overwhelming inferiority. Both hate each other with a passionate fury.  So they attack back and forth to prove that they are indeed valuable human beings. Stop and think. If you kill my kid it will cause me immense suffering.  If I kill your kid it will cause you immense suffering. We are both suffering immensely! How does this make any sense!? Killing is unproductive and cyclical.  I hate Don Corleone for equating murder with family love, but I applaud the film for illuminating the irrationality of violence so vividly.

3D and the Future of Film

“We’re blown away by what Michael Bay has been able to do with our new digital 3D cameras. With Transformers: Age of Extinction, he takes IMAX® 3D to the next level – putting moviegoers smack in the middle of the action with the Autobots and  Mark Wahlberg as audiences have never seen before.” –Greg Foster, CEO of IMAX Entertainment


Director Michael Bay looking at the setup of a shot in Transformers: Age of Extinction that utilizes the new IMAX 3D camera.
Director Michael Bay looking at the setup of a shot in Transformers: Age of Extinction that utilizes the new IMAX 3D camera.

This week, our class had the privilege of exploring the new IMAX headquarters building in   Playa Vista. We were told that we were in literally the best private screening room in the world, with a dual projector, 6.0 sound system and a 65 foot screen. The trembling bass had adrenaline coursing through my veins which, combined with the crystal clear images, put this theater leagues above any other theater I had ever been in. The theater did not yet have their latest dual laser projector, which was very surprising, as the images were still crystal clear on the large, 65 foot screen. This made me really want to go see Fast 7 at the TCL Chinese IMAX on their IMAX laser projector, to see how the image differed from that in this private theater.

The new IMAX dual laser projector, now in the TCL Chinese IMAX Theater
The new IMAX dual laser projector, now in the TCL Chinese IMAX Theater.

Greg Foster brought up how IMAX has developed a smaller, digital 3D camera that is capable of producing 4K images in three dimensions. We were discussing how viewing 3D films is much more expensive than 2D films, which seems to be a large contributor to why many people prefer to see films at standard cinemas. It is exciting to contemplate the future of cinema, as many point to virtual reality as the next big innovation in cinema. While this would be revolutionary, I still fail to see how virtual reality in cinema would be feasible, as there are so many dimensions that would need to be altered in the production process. For example, how would the lighting and cameras be set up, yet not shown to audiences, if virtual reality allows viewers to see all that is around them?

The older 3D IMAX cameras were so big and loud that external audio would need to be created and added after filming
The older 3D IMAX cameras were so big and loud that external audio would need to be created and added after filming.

Also interesting to me on the subject of 3D films it how almost all films (or at least the ones for which we viewed trailers) seem to be action movies, or superhero movies. I have never been a particular fan of 3D films as I have grown accustomed to seeing films in 24 frames-per-second on two dimensional screens, and for me, 3D is just bizarre and hard to watch. The experience seeing these action packed films is definitely a fun and amusing time, but I have never been very inclined to re-watch films such as Transformers, or The Avengers. These action packed 3D films do extremely well in the box office. However, I would be much more likely to rewatch a film that focuses less on special effects, and more on expressing a compelling story, such as The Godfather (1972) or Some Like it Hot (1959).

With advances in camera technology, as well as computer processing power to handle these increasingly large and complex images, it is very interesting to see where the future of the movie viewing experience will end up. My prediction is that 3D films will become outdated and eventually no longer produced, because the industry was built on 2D, and 2D films continue to dominate the market today.




Welcome to the DGA

Getting to the Directors Guild of America can be long and arduous, and no, I am not speaking about the traffic on Sunset Boulevard where the DGA national headquarters is located.

DGA National Headquarters

The DGA is a prestigious institution that acts as a union for Directors and their teams, along with providing opportunities for directors to show their films to educated audiences.  The DGA was formed in 1936 as the Screen Directors Guild; the name changed in 1960 to the now Directors Guild of America.  The DGA has been headed by many famous directors over the years, including King Vidor, Arther Hiller, and Martha Coolidge.  Along with pictures and archives of some of Hollywood’s greatest films, there is a large screening room where films are screened and awards shows are held.  

6a00d83453b09469e2017ee7551ae4970d DGA Movie Theatre

Our class was invited to a screening at the DGA in L.A., where we saw William Friedkin’s lesser known Sorcerer (1977). I say lesser only because when the film premiered, it was supposed to have similar success to that of The Exorcist (1973), Friedkin’s monumental horror hit.  However, a little film by the name of Star Wars happened to be premiering one week later, and it seemed the public was more interested in seeing that than Sorcerer.  Nevertheless, our class watched Roy Schneider, Bruno Cremer, Francisco Rabal, and Amidou take the trucks filled with Nitroglycerin across South America, we watched the infamous bridge scene were the trucks nearly fell off, and finally we watched a tree get blown up that cleared the road to allow the trucks to continue on their journey.  The film was riveting, stressful, and brilliant, definitely worth watching if a William Friedkin fan.

In addition to watching this incredible movie, William Friedkin himself answered questions after the screening.  This was a real treat to all of us, especially because we got to listen to the thought process behind Sorcerer and the decisions Friedkin made while making the film.  We got to hear the comedic genius that William Friedkin really is, and the stories he told were unforgettable.  (Many of which can be found if you google long enough).

IMG_0362We salute you Mr. Friedkin!

It’s…. Jeopardy!

If there is anything that is both absurdly cliche and utterly timeless, it is America’s favorite game show, Jeopardy. While I normally think of watching Jeopardy as a pastime reserved for the elderly or the desperately bored, today’s viewing of the show live made me realize just how influential and downright successful this show is.

For one thing, there is the case of Emmy awards in the studio’s lobby. For another, the somewhat hokey promotional video shown to the audience beforehand reminds us how prevalent Jeopardy is in our culture, with countless references to the show and its iconic theme song appearing all over the media.

As a child who grew up without television in rural Vermont, even I found myself exposed to Jeopardy, when my mother impatiently hummed the theme song while waiting for me to put on my shoes. And what elementary school child doesn’t play some version of Jeopardy in History or Geography class?

But for all its timelessness, entering the studio was like entering the cringe-worthy old white man’s world whose heyday I like to think is on its way out. The hosts called all women, regardless of age, “sweetheart,” while Johnny Gilbert asked us to “look at that,” in reference to a woman on the Jeopardy team. “Isn’t that beautiful? Look at her. She’s gorgeous!” Alex Trebek said that if he were a super hero he would have his “wife or mother” sew him a cape.

What is a vacuum cleaner?  Jeopardy has been blasted for having sexist clues.
What is a vacuum cleaner? Jeopardy has been blasted for having sexist clues.

This isn’t to discredit what these men have done, or to pick on them unnecessarily. They seem like very decent humans and do, after all, come from a different time wherein no one would bat an eye at what I (and others from my generation) think of as irritatingly sexist. But it is important to note that these are the men that have enormous amounts of power, not just on Jeopardy, but throughout the industry. And although that is one catchy theme song…well, I’m ready to move on.

Is this what women want?
Is this what women want?