Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The WGA Strike: an Exercise in Greed, Power, and Stupidity

I'm sure everyone is aware of the Hollywood strike perpetuated by the Writer's Guild of America. It's all over the news, you're starting to notice your favorite TV shows disappear gradually, and everyone's about to get sick of reality programming.

This strike, in and of itself, is ridiculous, and will do Hollywood as an institution a Hell of lot more harm than it will "empower the writers to continue to produce commercial concent." And here's why:

Although there are several issues on the table at the negotiations between the AMPTP and the WGA, the one experiencing the hottest contention is the debate over how much money writers should be paid for web and new media content (such as webisodes of popular television shows, web-only shows, and direct downloads of shows and films). On the AMPTP side, they're claiming that the financial model for such a system isn't quite yet hammered out, and they're not sure how exactly they should distribute fees and residuals to the writers. The WGA is claiming that's a load of bullshit, and wants its money.

Now, according to several reports, the AMPTP has offered the WGA the same setup used to determine DVD and home video residuals. There's a bit more to it, but that's it in essence. To this, the writers resoundingly said "no."

Let me back up a bit... I wholeheartedly agree with the writers in that they should be paid for their work. However, I vehemently disagree that they should be paid for their work "in perpetuity." This is partially because I believe product should, ultimately, enter the public domain after a set number of years (and not a lengthy set, either), but that's almost another matter entirely, and I do not currently have the time to go over it.

Long story short: the WGA is wrong for instigating the strike when they did. Next year, the SAG and the DGA unions are going to approach the AMPTP to restructure their contracts, as well. Why couldn't the WGA have waited until then? Simply sign a one-year extension and have all three of the "power guilds" negotiate at the same time? By then, the AMPTP's argument about "not knowing how to pay for webisodes and downloads" would have been moot, having been given a year to figure it out.

But, no, Hollywood writers are, by nature, a greedy lot, and having already been slighted over "proper due credit" in film and television (an issue I agree with the WGA on), they aren't about to give up their so-called "pennies on the dollar."

If you find yourself siding with the writers on this, I ask you to go to the WGA website and look up their schedule of fees. These writers are extremely well-compensated for their work, most making more for a single script or a teleplay than many Americans make in an entire year. And, yet, they're claiming they don't make enough money.

There is more to this story, and, yes, I do feel that the WGA should ultimately win out on this issue, but they (along with SAG and the DGA) need to realize that they can only bite the hand that feeds them so many times. When an institution gets too top-heavy, it simply collapses, and then everyone is shit out of luck.

All that being said, my overall problem with the WGA is that they (again, along with SAG and the DGA) have not just the ability to force their own work-stoppages, they have the ability to shut down the entire American movie-making business. When these unions strike, it's not just them that feels the heat, but the hundreds and thousands of "below-the-line" workers who find themselves suddenly out of jobs. And most of the people who comprise IATSE (the largest Hollywood union, and the one which holds most of the technical and worker-bee personnel) don't make 25% of what the people in the WGA, SAG, and the DGA make.

Seriously... the next time you strike, make damn certain the "facts" you bring to the table are ironclad. And quit forcing me to find other jobs.

So, to the writers, despite the fact that I wish to eventually join the WGA, go fuck yourselves.

7 comments:

  1. I just want my damn shows back on - on time, in January. I agree wholeheartedly even though I don't give a rat's ass. Fuck the WGA!!! Woooo!

    Posted by Jessica Lynn on December 13, 2007 - Thursday - 12:32 AM

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  2. nothing has changed Jon, nothing has changed.

    Posted by Johnny O™ on December 15, 2007 - Saturday - 7:53 PM

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  3. i do it for fun, mariande, but you will be doing it along with all the other out of waiters and waitress, i mean, out of work actors :-)

    handjobs on oleander?..... sounds like a good name for a local punk band!

    its ok jonathon, just go to confession and everything will be ok. those bj's on the strip will slowly fade away.

    everyone starts at the bottom kid. that's hollywood's big dirty secret. steven spielberg had to give handjobs when he started out, and so did everyone else. why should you or i be any different? welcome to the club.

    Posted by Johnny O™ on December 15, 2007 - Saturday - 7:49 PM

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  4. @Johnny O: So basically nothing has changed for you is what your saying Oravec?

    Posted by Jonathan on December 14, 2007 - Friday - 10:19 AM

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  5. You and me, both, brother. You and me both. Although, I've been sticking to Oleander for the hand-jobs. It's safer.

    Posted by JeffScape on December 13, 2007 - Thursday - 7:03 PM

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  6. I just want to work.

    This strike has forced me to give handjobs on hollywood blvd just to keep my utilities on.

    Thanks WGA!

    Posted by Johnny O™ on December 13, 2007 - Thursday - 6:41 PM

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  7. Ah... this is the post you just told me about.

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