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rare female film critic | by maryann johanson

why the Hollywood writers strike matters

The Writers Guild of America — the people who first create the television shows and the movies that you love — are on strike. They’re on strike because the networks and the studios treat them like shit, treat them like their contribution is incidental to the production of shows and films that fine people like you pay to see. As a writer, though not a union member, that appalls me.

The last writers’ strike, in 1988, lasted five months. I’m guessing this one will wrap itself up more quickly, partly because of the very bone of contention that caused the writers to walk out in the first place: the Internet. The crux of this industrial action is Internet residuals, and the WGA members are getting their side heard far more easily than they did 20 years ago… thanks to the Net.

Via YouTube, here’s a quick and succinct explanation of why the strike matters:

And more — Sandra Oh, from Grey’s Anatomy:

Damon Lindelof, creator of Lost, and Marc Cherry, creator of Desperate Housewives, on how Hollywood writers aren’t as rich as you think they are:

Writers from The Office explain that most of their viewers watch the show online, a venue from which the writers who make you laugh don’t see a single penny, even though the network sees lots and lots of them:

That show has, by the way, “shut down for good” (meaning, for the duration of the strike), according to the official unoffical blog of the striking writers, UnitedHollywood.com. Why? Because WGA-member Steve Carell has informed NBC that he is unable to report to work because he is suffering from “enlarged balls.” Good for him.

Supporting the strikers means NOT supporting corporations for which profit — and the paycheck of the CEO and other execs — is absolutely primary, even above taking care of the people that make the product that gives those guys their jobs in the first place. And it’s worth remembering, too, that unless you’re a superstar in Hollywood — whether we’re talking about writers or directors or actors — chances are excellent that 1) you’re unemployed half the time, or more, 2) any dough you do make has to get split with the IRS, agents, managers, and so on, 3) and you’re constantly paying off the debt accumulated in your last stretch of unemployment.

I don’t mean to overplay the financial direness of many of these striking writers: most of them are way better off than I am, and as precarious as my situation is, I’m better off than many other Americans, particularly right now, with the economy in the toilet. But these are talented, creative people who make us laugh, make us cry, entertain us… which is even more important when times are tough. They’re not looking for handouts — they’re asking for their fair share, if a tiny one, of the enormous profits their employers are making off their talent and industry. Any working stiff in America should be on their side. Because if you’re not on their side, you’re on the side of corporate greed.

Read more on the strike:

• Daily Kos blogger “the choice is yours” on why supporting independent media during the strike is good for the striking writers

• political blogger Atrios on why the writers must win

Forbes, goddammit, of all outlets, on why the writers must win

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