The Sorry State of the US Job Market, Part 2


During my senior year at Tisch, I attended Senior Colloquium because I was growing concerned that I wouldn’t be able to find paid work once I graduated (how prescient!), and the course description sounded like it would help me do just that. Turned out that just like most of NYU’s career counseling services, Senior Colloquium was totally useless (granted, I didn’t take the second semester version, which I hear is better). Week after week we were treated to another low-level producer as our guest, many of whom weren’t even involved with film at all, but ancillary media like internet startups. In between complaining about how their careers never panned out, the guests always said the same thing: you have to pay your dues. I’m sorry, but that’s bullshit. Why do I “owe” the film industry anything? I haven’t even gotten a chance to be a part of it!! And people wouldn’t have to “pay their dues” if celebrities weren’t being paid ridiculously exorbitant sums of money to star in films. How many interns do you think went unpaid when Marlon Brando demanded $1 million just to read Coppola’s script for Apocalypse Now? Guy may be one of the greatest actors of all time, but he’s also one of biggest, fattest douchebags of all time.

In many ways the disparity of wealth in the film industry directly reflects the disparity in the United States as a whole. Millions of people work in the film industry across the world, but a very small percentage receive the majority of the wealth it makes. It’s the same case in the US, and no one’s doing anything about it. Everyone votes for Obama because his campaign advisors were geniuses who realized if they plastered the word “Change” across his face liberal fools everywhere would vote for him without question, and then what does he do right after being elected? Bails out the banks. Sure, he needed to do it in order to prevent the world from devolving into some hybrid of Waterworld and Mad Max, but with no constraints? The banks just got free cash and now everything’s back the way it was before, corruption, ridiculously high bonuses and all. And now, instead of focusing on the country’s number one problem- THE FUCKING RECESSION- Obama decides to put all his eggs in one basket and pursue health care as if reforming that system will somehow solve all of the nation’s problems. What difference does it make if people can get government-subsidized healthcare WHEN THEY CAN’T EVEN FIND A FUCKING JOB?!!! And don’t even get me started on Afghanistan… it’s as if Obama never studied its history and realized THAT IT’S TOTALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO CONQUER IT. Alexander the Great literally died while trying to invade Afghanistan. HAVEN’T YOU PLAYED RISK, OBAMA?!!! FOR CHRIST’S SAKE!!!!!

Dude, stop toking up and FIX THE FUCKING COUNTRY!!!

But Alex, you ask, didn’t you vote for Obama? Why yes, I did. But only because my first choice, Hilary, lost in the primary, and an America controlled by Sarah Palin seemed like my vision of the apocalypse. So I was willing to accept the alternative. But that’s the last time I vote for the Democrats in any kind of federal election. Obviously I won’t be voting for a Republican ever, but the Democrats have finally proven their critics right: they’re a bunch of corrupt, spineless, moderate pussies. And I’m sick of voting for two sides of the same coin. It’s not my fault American citizens are so retarded that the thought of having more than two candidates gives them small brain aneurysms. But from now on, I will vote for a third party in every federal election until a third party actually becomes a contender, which will be never, so I’ll be voting for Nader and the preserved Head of Nader for eternity. Maybe I’ll mix it up a bit, and vote for a new party each year. Communist party one year, socialist party the next, Cthulu Party 2016!! It doesn’t make a difference anyway, as voting in this country is completely pointless. I don’t want to sound like a radical nut or anything, but I think you’re blind if you don’t see that nearly every decision and policy our government makes is influenced by big business. We’re living in a dystopian future, people!!! We’re only one step away from the mega-corporation you see in movies like Alien.

But I digress. A LOT. Back to why the job market sucks so much. Well, due to the fact that I can’t find any kind of gainful employment with any respected companies, or use my film skills to make profit, I’ve been looking at the retail and service industries as of late. At first I went for retail, cause I figured it wouldn’t be that shitty and with my degree I should have no trouble getting such an easy position. WRONG. Turns out that with a few exceptions, most retailers are only interested in hiring you if you have retail experience. This was most insulting to me at GameStop, which not only looks like the chillest retail environment of all time, but is run by the nerdiest collection of dudes I’ve ever seen. I understand needing prior experience for let’s say, a construction gig, or anything that requires even the remotest semblance of skill. But retail? Brosef, I have a COLLEGE DEGREE. Do you honestly think my lack of retail experience will be a liability? I already know all there is to know about videogames, love talking about them, like talking to people and I can do simple arithmetic. If you honestly believe it will take me longer than one day to learn how to use a cash register than you’re a fucking retard and I should have your job.

Apple, Gamestop, Barnes & Noble & Starbucks have all rejected me. So has USC’s graduate screenwriting program. My gut is telling me NYU isn’t going to accept me either. To be honest, I’m at a total loss. Every day seems bleaker than the last and it’s hard to find motivation when you’re surrounded by so much failure. Even if I could find the initiative to reignite my passion for cinema and writing, it’s hard to keep it going when the future of the planet seems so destined for cataclysm. Meanwhile, I’m overqualified for any kind of menial minimum-wage job, but underqualified for any kind of work done in an office. I have a slew of internships under my belt as well as several references, but since none of them lasted for a few months and I never received an annual salary, I might as well have no experience at all in the eyes of employers. I’m a skilled editor fluent in FinalCut Pro, AVID, Compressor & some ProTools, but need to learn After Effects, PhotoShop and a bevy of other programs before I can even attempt to find work as an editor, and even then it’s unlikely I would ever be paid. I have a list of phone numbers for the production houses of various films and TV shows, but they only seem interested in hiring production assistants they’ve either worked with in the past, or who have taken the Mayor’s Office PA training program. The Wasserman Center for Career Development is utterly & insultingly useless, going so far as to have a “job fair” for unpaid internships. TIsch Career Development is mildly better, but in the grand scheme of things there doesn’t seem to be much they can do to help me. I’m submitting scripts to festivals and fellowships, but since all I’ve got is a somewhat original horror film and a TV pilot that accidentally happened to have the same mythology as Fringe, I don’t have high hopes for any wins.

The more I search the more frustrated I become. Filling out arbitrary questionnaires designed to tell if you would be a good drone at an AMC Theater would be infuriating if it wasn’t for the drug and background tests some companies (like Best Buy) demand their applicants go through. It’s practices like these that make you realize we live in a world where we no longer have any real rights. I understand the thought process behind these checks, and it makes a little more sense for criminal background (but not really). But no matter which way you slice it it’s discriminatory. Criminals who’ve paid their dues have just as much a right to a job as a normal citizen, and as long as a worker isn’t doing drugs on the job it’s none of their employer’s goddamn fucking business. This country is a shithole pretending to be the leader of the “Free World.” We claim to have a legal system, but it’s constantly bogged down in bureaucracy and procedure, so much so that innocent people are often sentenced to death, while white collar criminals get off scott free. We have the right to vote, but as I said before what difference does that make when candidates are handpicked by the rich and designed so as to be relatable to the widest possible demographic? We claim to be a land of the free, but we are not free in the slightest. The lives we lead, while better than many of the peoples of the world, are still the antithesis of freedom. How can we claim to be a democracy when so many of our minorities still do not have the rights that they are owed?

The world is going to shit, it’s as simple as that. If you’re an optimist, you’re just naive. What’s most distressing is that if you look back on history, the world has always been a swirling cesspool of shit. Old people may tell you “things were better back in my day,” but that’s just because they’re senile and nostalgic. Things have never been better, if anything, things were way worse just a mere thirty years ago. But if you really think about it, despite all the scientific achievements mankind has made, our society has still to progress very far. And when that realization sinks in, you can see how it’s hard to hold onto hope.

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~ by TheHil on March 12, 2010.

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