There is one thing that can be agreed upon by all: a job in media is a cool job. Even if you are writing a TV column on byteclay.com, there will still be people who think you have a cool job. Does writing on this site result in a living wage? Of course it doesn’t. But writing about TV is cool, so that’s the trade-off.
Because the media industry is a competitive one, not everyone who wants to work in this field will get a job that pays a living wage. Some people are more fortunate than others. Not only did Melissa Harris-Perry get a cool media job, but her job paid more than just a basic living wage. She was hired to host her own news program on MSNBC, so she is quite wealthy. However, she was fired from that job on Feb. 28. Two days prior, she publicly slammed her bosses in an e-mail that was published for all to see. The connection between the two events is easily made.
Harris-Perry’s e-mail is basically a rant about the control MSNBC exerted over her former show. Parts of the e-mail are harsher than others. Not everything is out of line, but there are some nasty words directed at MSNBC. The most damning part of the e-mail reads:
I will not be used as a tool for their purposes. I am not a token, mammy, or little brown bobble head. I am not owned by Lack, Griffin, or MSNBC.
If you are the headliner of your own TV show on MSNBC, there is no possible way that you have been turned into a mammy figure. Harris-Perry is a middle-aged woman. Imagine if she were a millennial writing something like that. There would be cries of entitlement and hypersensitivity–traits that would be generalized to the rest of the people in her generation.
For instance, take into account the case of Talia Jane, a former Yelp employee who was fired after posting a rant about the low wages the company paid her. The rant went viral for reasons she most likely didn’t foresee. While this 25-year-old woman did indeed only make the minimum wage at Yelp, she also received medical benefits from them. She wrote, “They’re great. I’ve got vision, dental, the normal health insurance stuff.” There were even free snacks available for employees while they were at work. Many people in the comments section had zero sympathy for her.
People asked a lot of irritated questions about the situation she portrayed in her blog post. They wanted to know why she needed to live by herself in an apartment that costs $1,245 dollars a month, when she knew she was hired to do a minimum wage job. Was there no one willing to be her roommate? At the least, couldn’t she get a second job? She wrote in her post that she had an internet connection for a freelance gig (second job). However, she hadn’t been doing her second job because she was “constantly too stressed to focus on anything but going to sleep” after getting off work at Yelp. Was the stress really that overpowering? Suspicions about her character abound, because she’s young and people assume someone in her 20s doesn’t know what it’s like to work hard and suffer.
Talia Jane had a cool job (Yelp is always cool), but she moaned and groaned about it. She might have moved up the Yelp hierarchy and fulfilled her dream of getting paid to create “memes and twitter jokes about food.” But she didn’t want to wait the one whole year it would have taken her to be eligible to transfer to the media department.
That’s why Melissa Harris-Perry’s e-mail puts things in perspective. She had it all. She isn’t 25 and dreaming about the day she will finally get her own show on MSNBC. She’s 42 and had the cool job that twenty-somethings dream about. Yet, she still felt she was being treated like a mammy at work. It’s not just millennials who get fed up with their employers and demand more from them. That mentality can occur throughout the lifespan.