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Support the Writers Guild Strike

November 7th, 2007 · 2 Comments · Activism, Comedy, Culture, Film, Heroes, History, Labor, News, Science Fiction, TV, Video

Here’s a snappy little video explaining why.

As Miss Laura notes, the writers have even tried relaxing their demand for that luxurious extra 4 cents per DVD. They said they’d be willing to settle for the measly 4 cents they’re already getting, if they can just please be paid for their work on Internet downloads. And of course the overlords were unmoved.

Please sir, can we have some more gruel?

Miss Laura also links to this wonderful little rant from Joss Whedon:

Reporters are funny people. At least, some of the New York Times reporters are. Their story on the strike was the most dispiriting and inaccurate that I read. But it also contained one of my favorite phrases of the month.

“All the trappings of a union protest were there… …But instead of hard hats and work boots, those at the barricades wore arty glasses and fancy scarves.”

Oh my God. Arty glasses and fancy scarves. That is so cute! My head is aflame with images of writers in ruffled collars, silk pantaloons and ribbons upon their buckled shoes. A towering powdered wig upon David Fury’s head, and Drew Goddard in his yellow stockings (cross-gartered, needless to say). Such popinjays, we! The entire writers’ guild as Leslie Howard in The Scarlet Pimpernel. Delicious.

Except this is exactly the problem. The easiest tactic is for people to paint writers as namby pamby arty scarfy posers, because it’s what most people think even when we’re not striking. Writing is largely not considered work. Art in general is not considered work. Work is a thing you physically labor at, or at the very least, hate. Art is fun. (And Hollywood writers are overpaid, scarf-wearing dainties.) It’s an easy argument to make. And a hard one to dispute.

… It’s necessary, though. We’re talking about story-telling, the most basic human need. Food? That’s an animal need. Shelter? That’s a luxury item that leads to social grouping, which leads directly to fancy scarves. But human awareness is all about story-telling. The selective narrative of your memory. The story of why the Sky Bully throws lightning at you. From the first, stories, even unspoken, separated us from the other, cooler beasts. And now we’re talking about the stories that define our nation’s popular culture – a huge part of its identity. These are the people that think those up. Working writers.

“The trappings of a union protest…” You see how that works? Since we aren’t real workers, this isn’t a real union issue. (We’re just a guild!) And that’s where all my ‘what is a writer’ rambling becomes important. Because this IS a union issue, one that will affect not just artists but every member of a community that could find itself at the mercy of a machine that absolutely and unhesitatingly would dismantle every union, remove every benefit, turn every worker into a cowed wage-slave in the singular pursuit of profit. (There is a machine. Its program is ‘profit’. This is not a myth.) This is about a fair wage for our work. No different than any other union. The teamsters have recognized the importance of this strike, for which I’m deeply grateful. Hopefully the Times will too.

Go read the rest.

Also, applause to B.J. Novak and the other cast members of The Office for not crossing the picket line. In fact, here’s some video footage of the Office gang doing interviews on the picket line.

Tim Kring from Heroes is also supporting the strike. Yatta!


2 Comments so far ↓

  • jim s.

    Obviously the New York Times is not a “union shop.” But it could also be that the ‘reporter’ who penned the ‘arty glasses’ quip hasn’t ever been laid off or fired at will or had to count the coins in the coin jar at the end of the month. I don’t know, but it’s an impression I get.

    I’m so glad and proud that I am a writer who does work in a union shop, and one of the two unions I belong to is also a union that has been trying to get cellular phone company employees, as well as other communications workers, organized, and has faced great opposition from the employers.

    But besides not buying any DVDs and not watching the reality programming that is likely to replace the TV shows that are affected by the strike, I really have no idea how to support the writers (besides encouraging everyone to buy only union-made newspapers, for one ;) .

  • Ocelopotamus

    I think the best thing you and I can do is spread the word that the writers aren’t just being prima donnas here. The newspapers always frame strikes as if the strikers were being unreasonable somehow, probably because the papers are owned by bosses and exist to promote the boss viewpoint. So to whatever extent public sympathy is a factor, I think it’s helpful to get the public on the writers’ side as much as possible by sharing info about the issues — one of the reasons I blogged about this, actually.