A truly tragic story emerged today. Beloved actor Alec Baldwin, who is perhaps best known for his rattling speech in the classic movie Glengarry Glen Ross, shot dead a woman on the set of some woke Western he is starring in, and injured another with the same bullet. Obviously, you are not supposed to use live ammunition on a set. Furthermore, an actor is only a puppet for the director, similar to how Joe Biden is little more than a puppet for his handlers. Alec Baldwin was simply given a gun as a prop during the shooting of the movie, pulled the trigger, and presumably was quite surprised when the woman he shot keeled over and died for real as that was most likely not in the script.
The first question to ask yourself here is how this could even have happened. While I am not familiar with the movie business, and neither am I an expert on handling live ammunition, I would assume that there were several layers of checks that failed completely. First of all, you cannot just buy live ammo. Second, live ammo does not just materialize out of thin air, so who bought it? Third, why did nobody notice that the rounds looked a bit different? After all, if you are used to handling blanks, the first time someone gives you a box with live ammunition, you probably notice that something is off. This is the moment where you realize that reality has just gone off script, no pun intended, and that you need to investigate what is up. Imagine driving your car and your navigation system tells you to drive off the road, into a river. Again, you should immediately notice that something is off and question what you are being confronted with because something is not quite right.
You can probably imagine my utter disbelief when I learned that the young woman who was in charge of handling props on the set thought she was not quite up for the job and did not really know what she was doing. Here is an excerpt from a relevant NY Post article:
“You know, I was really nervous about it at first, and I almost didn’t take the job because I wasn’t sure if I was ready … but, doing it, like, it went really smoothly,” Hannah Reed said last month in the Voices of the West podcast. Reed, whose dad is well known Hollywood armorer Thell Reed, made the podcast appearance while working on the set of the Nicholas Cage movie “The Old Way.” That production just weeks ago marked her first time as a head armorer.
Even though I am clueless about the career ladder of the person in charge of handling weapons on movie sets, there are probably at least three rungs to climb: intern armorer, armorer, and head armorer, but I would not at all be surprised if there are also associate armorers. In any case, the issue is that this woman, by virtue of being a head armorer is not supposed to be a relative newbie, unsure of whether she can even do the job. Verifying that you do not load a gun with live ammo is quite likely part of the introductory session in this line of work, just like nursing text books start with basics like how to wash your hands properly. (I dated a few nurses and that is indeed how the introductory textbooks here in Europe start.)
Given the rather creative interpretation of fulfilling her duties on the set, Hannah Reed owes us some answers, but nobody is going to ask the really hard-hitting questions to get them. For one, I would be very interested to know how someone so careless got pushed up the career ladder. Obviously, this happens in other fields as well. Germany was led for 16 years by an woman who worked hard on bankrupting the country, destroying the infrastructure, and flooding it with millions of unqualified foreigners. Nobody seems to ever have asked her any tough questions either because if you did so, you would be some kind of mouth-breathing misogynist. Surely, there must have been some warning signs that Hannah Reed is not careful enough, does not follow instructions properly, or is unfamiliar with safety standards. Some red flags must have gone up in the past.
That women get promoted beyond their level of ability is the norm in this day and age. Of course, I do not claim that all women in leadership positions are clueless, just as I do not claim that there are no clueless men in high positions of power. Yet, no man gets promoted because the C-suite decided that we need a certain percentage of men in positions of leadership. On the other hand, for instance, plenty of large tech companies have been promoting women almost no matter what in order to fulfill diversity quotas. Sometimes, those women wreck a well-functioning department within a few months. In one case I am very familiar with, a woman with a non-technical background and very little leadership experience was put in charge of an important engineering department. Within nine months, two managers had quit. On top, she has a hard time hiring talent. The company is extending offers but they get turned down. From my limited interactions with that person, I know that her cluelessness becomes obvious within minutes, so I am not at all surprised of this outcome.
We used to have a well-functioning meritocracy in place, which ensured that you had to master the current level of work in the hierarchy before you could move up to the next one. This is no longer the case at all. Instead, many competent men face dismal career prospects while some women get promoted only because they are women and the company pushes for “gender quotas”. Yet, if they cannot do the job, there are often real-world consequences such as collapsing bridges (Florida, 2018), the sinking of the unsinkable warships (Norway, 2018), or people getting shot dead on film sets. To provide a bit of context, the company responsible for the bridge in Florida that killed several people when it collapsed was big on diversity, and the crew of that unsinkable Norwegian ship consisted of 80% women.
There is the surely completely false racist canard that whenever you do not hear about the race of a terrorist in an ongoing attack, you can assume that the perpetrator is a non-white person. Similarly, whenever the blame for some economic or engineering disaster would have to be put on a woman, we probably will not hear about it, with the media working overtime to find a male scape goat. Yet, by doing so, you also condition the audience to notice certain behavioral patterns in the media they are supposed to trust, which may explain why trust in mainstream media is very low nowadays.
Meritocracy is the only system that works in the long run for improving society. For the last few decades, our institutions have been getting hollowed out. You can do this for a while. At first, everything will seemingly still be fine, simply because there are sensible processes in place and people can do their job. However, it does not take a lot of subpar decisions to bring an institution to its knees. At some point you cannot cover up the deficiencies anymore, and people will ask themselves how this could have happened. Certainly, once people lose their lives due to the shocking incompetence of figures of authority, we will have to start facing up to reality.
The rabid push for equality of outcome at the cost of merit-based promotions is having disastrous effects. The woman Alec Baldwin accidentally shot dead, for instance, would still be alive if the “head armorer” had been more experienced and knowledgeable. Probably many more people will have to die before we will no longer speak of “tragic accidents” but instead can openly talk about a systemic issue. I am not sure that it will be possible to get out of this mess it without a preceding collapse, though. Thus, I am looking forward to future tragedies as they will bring us closer to the opportunity to start over.
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