EDIT: Leslie Green from the D.C. Office of Motion Picture and Television Department reached out to me for a correction. While Mayor Gray is meeting in New York with television execs he didn’t send the below memo as described to CBS. The memo as described is a satire piece created by City Paper staffers. Thanks Leslie for the correction!
The struggle for D.C. voting rights/statehood…pretty much respect from the federal front…continues.
So far getting arrested on Capitol Hill and along the front of the White House hasn’t worked. It’s also pretty obvious that President Obama isn’t going to be the city’s savior, especially not with a majority Republican party holding the power of the purse on The Hill. So what’s next? Apparently the Washington City Paper thinks my mayor, Vincent Gray, should pitch a T.V. series with drama that will highlight the struggle is a plausible answer. This morning the Washington City Paper posted a memo as if Gray would send to CBS Chairman Leslie Moonves. In it, Gray lays out the following justifications for such a show based on data gathered by the One City Division of Televisual Marketing Advice;
- Millions of Americans have spent 2011 watching televised reports of people taking to the street demanding justice as part of the “Arab Spring,” and “Occupy Wall Street,” among other causes. Many of the participants in these movements come from the much-sought-after 18-35 year old demographic.
- Films focusing Middle Eastern current events have flopped, and movements like Occupy Wall Street disturb key advertisers.
- On the other hand, urban America is now associated with “edgy” music and fashion that appeal to key consumer demographics craved by your advertisers.
- Demographic changes in urban areas mean that government mistreatment now affects the upscale consumers desired by television advertisers.
- Thanks to initiatives like the District of Columbia’s “Taxation without Representation” license plate program, 61 percent of people who purchased new tablet computers in 2011 tell consumer researchers that they are aware of the nation’s capital’s lack of local democracy.
- 91 percent of potential buyers of deodorant, English muffins, and midrange Korean automobiles express overwhelming disapproval for Congress.
Gray also lays out a plot synopsis that starts as such;
It is day 42 of a federal government shutdown. Because of Washington’s unusual status in the federal budget, local trash goes uncollected, local police are on furlough, local streets are unplowed. Beverage-industry lobbyist Eric Carpenter (Will Smith) is not bothered. Though he enjoyed a brief go-go music career before law school, he’s a long way from his roots in D.C.’s “hood.” His children go to private school, he lives in gentrified Logan Circle, he drives an SUV over the potholes that are exclusively caused by Congressional mistreatment of the city.
Gray also notes that Bradley Cooper (The Hangover) could play S.C. Republican Rep. Tucker Beauregard and D.C. area breakthrough Hip Hop artist Wale could play Telly, a street musician “reduced to bucket-drumming for pocket-change because he was forbidden from accepting a National Endowment for the Arts grant when heartless federal bureaucrats limited the grants to residents of bona-fide states.” Other actors Gray mentions includes Justin Timberlake to play a Harvard Law graduate that lost his job on the Hill because of Congress’ exemptions from D.C. Law on discrimination against gays and lesbians, Kristen Stewart (The Runaways) to play a classmate of Timberlake’s turned political organizer and Sandra Oh (Grey’s Anatomy) to play the city’s former schools chief (nee Michelle Rhee).
On a serious note…
As I pitch local stories that have a national appeal to them, not many outlets are biting. I’m learning the hard way that people simply don’t care about us, what we do and how we are contributing to making this NATION great and in return all we want is for the government of this Nation to treat us with dignity and respect. It’s like local D.C. is a foreign land with a strange native tongue. People want to come, visit and marvel at our Roman and Greek architecture, oogle at the natives for a while and eventually disregard once they have used this city up.
Why is it so hard for local D.C. to receive respect, especially by Congressional members who use this city daily until their term is up? As my mother and I had discussed once, I had hoped that new residents, those coming from actual states join in the fight in lobbying Congress for representation and/or statehood. I’m even more concerned about actual native Washingtonian that are clueless or are pretty much complacent when it comes to local politics; read… if it doesn’t concern Marion Barry (an obvious mega public figure good or bad)…they don’t care.
A couple of years ago I was working on an assignment for an online publication connected to Howard University. I was conducting a followup of the D.C. Voting Rights Act bill that passed through the Senate, and at the time I began the interviews it was awaiting to pass through the House. Of course the House shot it down, but before that news hit I did on the street interviews with residents of the District. There was a method to my madness as I DID NOT seek out interviews from residents that lived on Capitol Hill and all parts West of the Anacostia. I stayed within my realm, East of the Anacostia River in wards 7 and 8, but I mainly stayed around ward 7. I did this because I knew there is still a great deal of actual Washingtonians in these wards and I didn’t want to necessarily capture the view(s) of a resident that hasn’t lived here long enough that may not have the same passion for the fight. I wanted to find a native that was in tuned to local politics and perhaps their passion would show through.
I spent a day pushing my then 2 year-old daughter in her stroller as I carried a video camera (on loan from Howard) in hand. I was a bit disappointed as I conducted my interviews. As my raw footage shows I mainly gathered responses from men. A lot of the women I approached either had no opinion, had no clue or wanted to look fly for the camera and turned down the opportunity to respond once they realized that I was going to be recording. One lady who I caught coming out of a store with her two teenage daughters literally told me “OH NO! I will give you a verbal response, but I CANNOT be on camera looking like this!”
Really lady? UGH!!!!!
I had to keep moving as my report was all multimedia (video) and no comments were going to be written.
Nonetheless, I was glad for the responses I received. My questions were pretty basic (as you will see in the clip). I asked three to four questions about their feelings and thoughts on D.C. voting rights and if they were for or against D.C. becoming a state. Keep in mind it’s raw footage. Unfortunately at the I was working on editing the story, the news was breaking that the house had turned the bill down and I worked another angle. My video was never used.