Friday, November 02, 2007

Solidarity Forever!

So, barring a last-minute shift of tectonic proportions from "management" (the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers), it looks like the Writers Guild of America is going on strike, with Monday the most likely start date (as per this article in the Toronto Star).

While I'm not a member of any of the creative guilds, I'm solidly on-side with the WGA. One of the many popular ways for the writer to get screwed has been exploiting the absence of industry agreements dealing with whatever new media have come along (whether videotape, DVD, web delivery of content, or whatever comes next).

The WGA wants to fill that loophole. Obviously, this will not only benefit the current membership, but also future generations of writers. Since my goal is for that to include me, self-interest alone motivates me to deem this strike a Good Idea.

But there's more to it than that - as the WGA knows, since it's membership are going to be sacrificing their salaries now for those future generations.

Between the corporate domination of media by huge conglomerates, and the not-entirely-unrelated tendency of the entertainment media to focus on celebrities like movie stars and a handful of directors, the writer doesn't just get screwed, but forgotten.

It's downright ridiculous that the people who have the ideas, the people who invent the stories, the people who provide words for those movie stars to say, not only get no attention, but no respect and no money.

The attention, I can live without. Writers, even in Hollywood, are often idiosyncratic, introverted and vaguely nerdish. We'll never be as famous as movie stars, or directors. Most of us would go over like a lead balloon as guests on late-night talk shows. And that's okay -- if we were pretty extroverts, we'd be actors too.

But it all starts with the writer. The story, the movie, the TV show, the webisode, mobisode or Flash animation, whether on basic cable or digital cable or DVD or the web, lives or dies by the writer. If the writing doesn't work, nothing else will.

And yet, writers don't get a piece of the pie. Just a hewer-of-wood, drawer-of-water paycheque. Sure, it's a big paycheque by most people's standards. But should that really be it, for creating the work that gives everyone else involved something to do? If new and exciting media provide new and exciting money, the writer deserves a share if anyone does.

The members of the WGA know that. They know that they, and future generations of writers, deserve a reasonable slice of the secondary media and new media pie. They're willing to fight for it, to stop doing the work they love and put their feet on the pavement to fight for it.

For that, I can put up with watching re-runs of The Colbert Report.

Solidarity, brothers and sisters. For the union makes us strong.

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