So that happened.
The studio conglomerate tried to have a go at the WGA membership this past Thursday, the way a bully repeatedly tells the skinny kid he won't beat the crap out of him, then lies in wait on the walk home from school, beats the crap out of the kid, and accuses the kid of asking for it.
Yes, we are greedy asshats who want to take precious revenue away from the studios. But we aren't stupid, and we didn't fall for it. In the last post, I said something about resolve and unity. Some people don't seem to think this makes a stick of difference, that whatever is going to happen will happen anyway. I congratulate them either on their adamant fatalism, or their invention of a time machine, which they used to go to the future to see that indeed, none of this made a stick of difference.
Because we can't beat the conglomerates. We can't wait them out. We'll never get even a portion of what we're asking for. They're willing to sacrifice this TeeVee season, next TeeVee season, and the 2009 summer movie season. This is a power struggle, and everyone's saying we can't possibly win.
Which is always said when congloms flex their muscles. Enron did it to California, and then laughed about it. Halliburton did it to the troops. Blackwater's doing it to -- hell, Blackwater's too scary to even contemplate. And now the media congloms are going to do it to the writers and the actors. Not sure about the directors yet, but how much fun would it be if there wasn't anyone to boss around?
Yeah, we can't win. So we shouldn't even try. We need to stop being all emotional about it and let our business heads take over. This is a BUSINESS, people! Let's treat it like one! Let's become them. The only way we can win is to join them. So fuck it. Let's put down those picket signs, throw away our Dr. Scholl's Massaging Gel Soles, and stop eating free donuts. Let's just tell the congloms that we're ready to deal -- whatever they want is fine with us. We just want to WORK. Since we know we can't win, we'll be their bitches, only it'll be more obvious this time. $250 for a whole year of streaming video? Glad to have it. Same DVD rate? Thank you very much.
Oh. Hang on a sec... I thought I was posting on Mazin's site. Oh, thank God. I'm not there. I'm here. Whew! What a relief. So I can say shit I wouldn't be allowed to say on Mazin's site. I don't have to either toe the line, or let people heap insults upon me (which, by the way, seem to be juust fine with the fucking moderator).
Craig's latest post is about how the action of the studios didn't demoralize anyone. And Craig knows that, because he's been picketing for two days. Sorry, gotta call bullshit on that one. What happened was, we didn’t buy it. The writers saw that offer and went, “Well, obviously we aren’t accepting THAT.” What’s demoralizing isn’t that the studios are using this highs-and-lows tactic, but that there’s no humanity there at all. Not just with us. With everybody who works for them, with all the people who have already been fired and laid off.
Insert “How corporations are destroying the middle class” rant here. We all feel it, and this is the most recent tactile example. I think these guys are evil, miserable mofos. However, I don’t picture them sitting behind their large oak desks doing fly hands. I think they’re such a part of the machine that it’s the machine that’s taken over. It IS only about money and the bottom line. It feeds itself. That’s not an emotional declaration; it’s just how I see it.
Those who say that we need to remove all emotion when dealing with these asshats are, in a certain sense, right. Of course we can’t appeal to them on a human level. Not because they’re not human, but because they spend most of their day feeding the corporate machine. What they do know, however, is that we ARE human. They’ll play on that, but then, just like in the best “Star Trek” episodes, they’ll have to deal with us on that level. We will have to get something that we want, and simply appealing to us on a business level isn’t going to work forever. Because if we DO settle for a crappy deal, we get to be angry. And although I have absolutely no interest in creating my own internet production company, other writers may go that route. The studios may not be happy with the result.
I can hear the chittering of the wonks as they bleat about my naiveté. “No, stupid writer,” they exclaim, “Put your business hat on.” And then they’ll vomit forth all these numbers – which, by the way, they don’t understand, either. And that, my friends, is called not seeing the forest for the trees. It’s classic obfuscation, and writers are starting to fall into that well. I do understand it. We all want to know what’s going on, and there’s precious little information. But arguing with idiots about what constitutes a residual is a waste of time, and it just serves to feed the idiot.
I’m in this business because I’m a creative type. Yes, it’s a business… but if I am not, first and foremost, a creative person, then what’s the point? I don’t want to lose that, and it’s easy to lose it in this environment. I’m used to exercising that creativity every day, writing scripts, coming up with ideas, outlining shit. Calling the agent, having meetings, doing other types of homework. But now, I picket every day. And then I try to fend off rumors, which are always coming because this business would die without it. But a rumor about who JJ Abrams is casting in “Star Trek” is quite a bit different than who’s feeding information to the unsuspecting Nikki Finke. The latter has a much stronger bearing on my ability to pay the rent in February.
Everybody’s having trouble writing, or even thinking. Because our world has been turned around, and all that matters is whether or not there will even be a TeeVee or a film business in a few months. Will the other networks follow NBC’s lead and just program game shows and reality? Sure, they certainly could. If all they care about is profit, it behooves them to save money by lowering production costs. So maybe they won’t even make drama or comedy anymore. Maybe they’ll stop programming Friday night altogether. Maybe all ten o’clock broadcasts will go away.
Maybe all of that will happen. And that will end the business. But I’m a creative type. I’ll just have to find a different venue to do what I need to do. I hope it doesn’t come to that, but all I can do to stave that off is go out there every day and picket. Get people to honk. Show solidarity with my fellow picketers, and support the leadership. If that makes me a fascist, then so be it. Those who need to survive by pretending to be ardent pragmatists can keep hammering the numbers and accusing the rest of us of being emotional girly things. Because I don’t care about them anymore, and with good reason.
It's ironic that we're talking about the New Media Landscape, with those interwebs and the series of tubes and the mp-whatevers and the iPods, while the internet remains scarily the same as it's always been. Because there's one constant -- people. Asshats. Anarchists. Trolls. Peacemakers. Troublemakers. Censors. Writers. The strike has driven all of us to various message boards, and each one is frightening similar. As the boards approach critical mass, the sensitivity to hurt feelings grows. And this inevitably ends in a small army of like-minded folks swanning around, pretending they're having a discussion when what they're really having is an agreement.
God help anyone who doesn’t agree with them. And in this climate, where there are suspicious AMPTP folks wandering from one message board to the next, censorship has become an issue, and the banning begins.
It would be nice if we all had our own little corners of heaven to go to, but that's simply not possible on the internet. If you, say, have a website where you trumpet a free exchange of ideas and you start banning people, what kind of a hypocrite are you? In my last post, which I was told got a LOT of negative play elsewhere, I said that there have been writers distancing themselves from the effort. If you don’t believe in it, fine. If you are a conscientious objector, I don’t agree with you, but whatever. But if you are positioning yourself as a voice for the Guild, you’re rather despicable to ban people from your website, yes?
So. To all the creative folks who are shellshocked from this thing, WRITE SOMETHING. Even if it’s only a paragraph. Write something every day. Scribble an idea down on a napkin. Write a novel. Because that’s the one thing that shouldn’t be affected by the business angles, the negotiating tactics, the numbness of picketing, the internet asshats, and the uncertainty. When you see Nikki Finke or Craig Mazin boast about how popular their sites are, let it roll off. When you hear the idiots on an actual decent radio station like, say, Indie 103.1 blathering the AMPTP talking points, just appreciate that they play The Fratellis. Some asshat with his kid in the car flips you off and yells “Fuck you” when you’re picketing? Let it go.
Write. Get inspired. Read books. Watch “Mad Men” again. Watch the movies that inspire you. Hell, follow football. Patronize (in a good way) the dry cleaners around the corner that has a “We support the WGA” sign in their window. Turn that frown upside down, little campers, and remember why you’re doing this in the first place. It’s easy to lose sight of it when the industry isn’t in complete disarray. So it’s gonna be a little harder to get motivated. But don’t fall off the bike.
Today, I’d like to appreciate the fans, who’ve been organizing quite impressively. The outpouring of support has been massive and unbelievable and unwavering. Fandom, for good or bad, has always been about passion, and your passion is serving you extremely well now, fans. It will not be forgotten, and I say that as someone who’s had issues with fandom. It’s a new day, y’all.
There's a comment that shows it was removed by me -- just so y'all won't think I'm not allowing comments, that was a private comment that I accidentally posted. So there.
In the next post, I hope to talk about something other than the strike. I’m going to do my damned best. It’ll be fun, a peek via the past into the future where TeeVee still exists!
Forgot – Carson Daly is an asshat. That is all.
Np – “The Ocean,” The Bravery. This song KICKS ASS.