Monday, November 5, 2007

"But it all amounts to nothing if together we don't stand..."

As we have forgotten the concept of The Weekend, Americans have also forgotten the concept of The Strike. Like The Weekend, there are some vague and nostalgic memories. Seems old-fashioned and silly. Like manners.
Today, unions seem so irrelevant and misrepresented that no consumer would ever join a boycott and nobody from the UAW would walk the line for the WGA.
I don't think it's progress when the major news companies are reporting on what'll happen with the Heroes:Origins miniseries but not the actual facts of the walkout. I heard one CNN newscaster say, "They [writers] get four percent of every DVD sold. When you add those numbers up, that's quite a lot of money, isn't it?"
(According to the WGA, their last contract stipulates that "a writer receives four cents for every $15 DVD sold." Not exactly the same as four percent. If there were a Readers Union, I'd join just to clear up that sort of thing.)
It's ironic that this is a writers' strike, because labor has always been at the mercy of language and spin. The very people who work every day with language and character find language bent against them, and their own character maligned. Media news outlets defend "honest money-makers" (management and ownership). The writers are "extortionists."
Labor unions are generally characterized as criminally obstructionist anti-corporate Stalinist deathgangs. Think of the language used when murderous thugs stopped unions from moving into mines by killing miners, their wives and children. Those monsters were merely "detectives" in the press. The "entrepreneurial" spirit and "free" markets and "free" trade have inspired individual workers to opt out of belonging to unions, and happily negotiate their own sweet deals, screwing other members of their profession out of their share of the market. Makes you think that looking out for the rest of your industry is dumb. But looking out for your self-interest is smart. The CEOs are "just doing their jobs," but those "greedy writers" are selfishly stopping your soaps in order to "redistribute wealth." And instead of asking for four more cents per DVD, the paper has them trying "to double their cut."
If it's every writer for him or her self, then let Mother Jones and Ayn Rand go at it. You'll see who gets the beach house and Beemer.
Crazy commie hippie talk? It's actually a part of the "government of the people, by the people, for the people" thing that Republican Abraham Lincoln popularized when he was talking about the people who died fighting for a country that was "conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."
I "wrote" for an experiment in television. I "developed documentary research narratives." That production folded, the series never got produced (that I know of), I never got paid for it, and I never joined the union. But not all writers are clever dilettantes like me. Unfortunately, 48% of writers are unemployed.
I've built houses from pouring the slab to framing the walls to laying the floor to hanging sheetrock to painting to felting and shingling the roof. And I never joined that union. I worked in a greenhouse, planting and harvesting and I never joined that union either. I don't drink non-union beer. But I buy stuff. I buy furniture. I buy books, DVDs, music. I buy groceries. I buy cars. I buy tools. I donate to organizations that employ union shops to print brochures. I'm part of the world, and I care about the union and yet-unaffiliated workers who work in it.
We all do something that deserves proper, appropriate, consistent, legitimate recognition. Whether you're writing soap operas, picking grapes, or putting things on top of other things. A mutually-acceptable contract agreement should be immediately ratified for the Writers Guild.
For the people who write the entertainments that momentarily keep our minds off the crimes perpetrated in our name.

3 comments:

Dr. Momentum said...

My writers can have anything they want at this point. I don't even make a DVD.

I miss 'em. Come back, writers! Don't make me write my own blawg!

ThirdMate said...

Is that how you handled it back in '88?
I don't see you on the list of struck companies.

anonymous said...

C'mmon guys!
Don't argue.
w'll miss "Heroes."
(although, they have at least two months stored up, I think.)

Really.
The writing it takes to make a Blog. And the writing it takes to make a TV show. Get a clue!!!