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Hollywood Momentum Gets Anthropological

Hollywood Momentum, a website aimed at industry assistants, is so well-maintained and frequently-updated, given what has to be a wispy thread of a revenue stream, that at first I assumed it was some sort of Scientology front. I think I was wrong about this.

This week, the website has a column about the convention known as Assistant Drinks– the ritualized interaction through which low level Hollywood workers form social bonds and (if they are new in town) learn how to assimilate into the culture. It’s presented as a How To guide– How To Network Effectively, How To Make Sure You Don’t Get Too Drunk, etc. But for those of us who are not Hollywood assistants, it’s also an interesting view into the social patterns of a foreign subculture:

You know how it starts: you’ve been on a desk for a few months, there are a couple of phone numbers you start to memorize because you call those offices so many times, you start to become “friends” with the assistant to whom the only words you ever mutter are “I have fill-in-the blank for fill-in-the-blank.” You don’t even really talk, unless it takes a minute for your bosses to connect, and then you ask a standard question like “how was your weekend” and get a standard response like “it was great.”… One day that voice says “let’s get drinks.”

That one paragraph says so much about alienation from labor, petit-bourgeois worker solidarity, and the commodification of pleasure in post-industrial society that I want to go to grad school and write a dissertation on it.

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