Thursday, November 15, 2007

Here's where I get angry.

For a first post, this probably isn't the best reflection of what this blog will eventually be. Ultimately, it's gonna be a hodgepodge of what interests me, which -- unless you're interested in exactly the same things -- may mean it seems a little unfocused.

But, when I read the following, from Henry Blodget on the Huffington Post in his "why no one has sympathy..." piece:

* Employed TV writers and producers already make decent money.

* Those who choose to go into the writing and producing business are usually intelligent, well-educated folks who could have chosen (and still could choose) to go into a better paid business. ( i.e., this isn't a case of oppressive owners exploiting people who have no other options).

Well, I kind of went apoplectic, and so now instead of a light interest piece, an angry response is my first blog entry.

Why so angry? Because Blodgett fails to recognize exactly what this strike is about.

With regard to the first point, that TV writers already make decent money -- yes, that can be true. But how often does a writer make decent money?

Answer: over half of the WGA's members don't earn any annual income as writers.

I've been lucky enough to work pretty consistently, but I have friends who've worked occasionally, intermittently, and sometimes not at all.

What this strike is about is establishing minimums.

When writer isn't bringing in any personal income -- yet a work they helped create continues to bring in revenue over and over over again to a studio or network, it's those minimums that allow a writer to stay afloat.

So let's make something clear: this strike isn't about writers like Jim Brooks or Cameron Crowe or Paul Haggis -- because they don't work for minimums (and yet they've all been out on the picket line) -- this strike is about protecting the little guys, the ones whose names you don't know, because maybe they haven't caught a break yet -- and maybe they never will.

Now, as to the second point, that we're intelligent, well-educated folk who could've chosen other, better paying professions, and are therefore not being exploited...

I take issue with the conclusion. If a studio is profiting from a writer's words over and over without paying a minimal residual (or, in the case of digital distribution any residual), then I say that is exploitation.

I also take issue with Blodget's premise that one's choice (writing) legitimizes one's predicament (little DVD payment, no digital payment). 

If a mine shaft collapses, we don't tell the miners, "well, what'd you expect, choosing that job?" We demand safer mines.  If a woman is raped, we don't say, "well, what'd you expect, choosing to walk down that street?" We demand justice -- and more secure streets.

Yes, circumstances can explain why a situation exists -- but it does not follow that those circumstances justify that situation. Were that so, our reaction to the practice of sweatshops employing children could quite reasonably be, "well where do they expect to work?"

Besides, Blodget, is that really the world you want to live in? One in which intelligent, well-educated folk ignore their abilities, shun their passions, and deny themselves just to enter "a better-paid business"?

I don't.

1 comment:

John said...

Blodget says, "Now I'm sad."

Well done, Shermania ---- the suits look bloated (when did Les Moonves put on all that weight?) and cocky when talking to shareholders or financial markets, but scared and uncertain when negotiating with you guys. Silly.

We're gonna miss the high quality content, but keep fighting the good fight. If they feed us nothing but reaity television and cheaply-produced documentaries (the return of Stone Phillips?), over time we'll all go away and they know it.