HBO's 'Silicon Valley' Creators on Art Imitating Diversity in Tech Industry
Over the weekend, the creators of "Silicon Valley" had some pointed words about the show's diversity and that of the industry it skewers.
At South by Southwest, the annual festival that blends the top talent in entertainment with the latest technology out of Silicon Valley, the producers of the HBO satire "Silicon Valley" discussed the way their show portrays the technology industry. They specifically tackled the particular differences between their art and the reality they satirize.
"Silicon Valley" Diversity
Producers Mike Judge and Alec Berg took the stage with the cast of "Silicon Valley" this weekend at the festival for a panel discussion. The co-creators noted that their show has had detractors since day one, who have complained that the hit HBO comedy itself lacks diversity.
"First season, we got a lot of flack -- some of it deservedly so -- about how male and white the makeup of the show was," said Berg on stage in Austin, Texas on Saturday. "But we're also satirizing a real world. And that real world, the people who do what our guys do are 87 percent male. Venture capitalists at the partner level are 96 percent male and white."
As Latin Post has previously reported, despite nearly two years of multi-million dollar diversity initiatives run by some of the top Silicon Valley technology firms, the project of expanding diversity in tech industry workforces has only shown halting progress. Women and underrepresented minorities still remain the exception in most of the tech world.
In an odd defense of diversity in entertainment -- which has also been a point of contention with progressive minority advocate groups -- Berg pointed out the tension between portraying (and making fun of) the reality of the technology industry and the goal of advancing actual diversity in his own industry.
Lack of Diversity in Art, Life
"The world that we're depicting is every bit as off kilter as our show is," said Berg. "That is an ongoing discussion, the world that we're depicting is f*cked up," he added. "But do we have the responsibility to make the gender and racial balance on our show ideal when the world that we're depicting isn't?"
"Silicon Valley" stars four white men out of the show's five main characters. But as Berg explained, he and his show have been criticized for a lack of diversity in scenes that literally reflect the real world of the technology industry.
The crew of "Silicon Valley," Berg recounted, captured footage from TechCrunch Distrupt, one of the industry's biggest annual start-up competitions, to incorporate into an episode of the show. But when footage of the actual crowd was in the review process, one of the show's editors criticized the crowd shots because there weren't any women in the frame.
"She said those crowd shots were absurd," said Berg. "Those were real shots of the real place, and we didn't frame women out," he contended, once again adding, "The world we're depicting is f*cked up."