"Life is not a meritocracy ... that's just a false narrative to push," says Hostin.
As someone who often reminds viewers she's the daughter of the late John McCain, Meghan McCain's shared her feelings on nepotism during Thursday's episode of "The View."
The topic at hand was a Twitter back-and-forth between actor Ben Stiller and The Black List founder Franklin Leonard, who sarcastically tweeted, "Hollywood's a meritocracy, right?" after a short film from director Destry Spielberg (Steven's daughter), writer Owen Kin (Stephen's son) and starring Hopper Penn (Sean and Robin Wright's son) was announced earlier this week.
While the conversation eventually twisted into one about nepotism, Leonard's actual point was that the same opportunities aren't available for everyone -- especially when it comes to diversity behind the camera.
As the women approached the subject on Thursday, Sara Haines first pointed out that Stiller himself came from famous comedian parents and that probably helped open some doors for him. She also noted, however, "he stayed in doors because of his talent."
Whoopi Goldberg then shifted the conversation to McCain, asking, "You come from notable stock, can you relate to this at all?"
"What's interesting about this topic is all of our children will have the same problem too, because everyone on this show is well known," she began. "I can only speak for myself, but every single door I've walked in my entire life, people automatically assume you're going to be a lazy, spoiled brat that won't contribute everything because you have famous parents. It's something I have dealt with my entire life."
"I no longer care, I think my work and my work ethic speaks for itself. But I think people think when you have a famous family or famous parents, everything's just given to you and everything's really easy," she continued, before pointing out the public struggles Hunter Biden has gone though to highlight how growing up in the public eye is "not everything you think it is,"
"The majority of people I know who have famous parents have struggled with very serious demons because every single thing you do ... is gonna be compared to what the famous person has done. It's a tall order," she continued, while referring to her dad. "I can never be a war hero presidential candidate. I don't think that's going to be in my cards in the future. I know it's not. But people will still always compare you and it can be something that you struggle with and you take home with you."
While she noted "nobody's gonna feel sorry for a person with famous parents," she reiterated her point that it's not always all it's cracked up to be. "It really isn't always what people think. In fact, it almost never is. I feel bad for these kids trying to make a movie. And I'm sure they got help because of who their parents are. If the movie's crap, it's crap and we'll see how it ends up being."
Sunny Hostin pushed back, though, saying that "life is not a meritocracy" and simply based on merit.
"That's just false and that's just a false narrative to push," she said, agreeing with Franklin's point. "Social position is determined, in large part, by the lottery of your birth and access is everything."
Talking about the specific short film, she said that everyone involved "had access" that wouldn't be afforded everyone else.
"There are many, many talented people that will never have that kind of access and access is key in any industry," she continued. "Franklin Leonard said he rejects the claim the industry, even in the long term, is a meritocracy. If it were, how would you explain the utter lack of diversity behind the camera. Is that a lack of merit? How do you explain the wealth gap in this country? How come African Americans are having a hard time across industries, is it because we're lazy? Is it because of a lack of talent? No, we lack access. And that's what this is really all about."
"The movie may be great, the movie may suck, but now they have a movie on their resume and that's gonna help them in the long run," she concluded.
After the women spoke about the topic on "The View," Leonard took to Twitter to add, "Suffice it to say I did not anticipate this being the result of my stating the simple fact that Hollywood is not a meritocracy along any timeline."
"The other remarkable bit of this is that the conversation has been hijacked into a referendum on nepotism and the talents of its beneficiaries instead of one about the systems that prevent other talented people from having the opportunities their talent merits. Quite unfortunate," he added. "I am entirely confident that I’m rooting for everyone who makes a movie or television show to make something spectacular, because, well, obviously. I also just happen to know that that will happen most often when we have something far closer to a true meritocracy than we do now."
See more of his initial debate with Stiller below:
Too easy @franklinleonard. People, working, creating. Everyone has their path. Wish them all the best.
Yes. Just speaking from experience, and I don’t know any of them, I would bet they all have faced challenges. Different than those with no access to the industry. Show biz as we all know is pretty rough, and ultimately is a meritocracy.
100 percent agree. Diversity is much bigger issue. No question. And I see your point, access is access. So yes. I’m saying that untalented people don’t really last if they get a break because of who they are or know or are related to.