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Thursday, November 15, 2007

WGA STRIKE: TIME FOR PRINCIPLES BEFORE PERSONALITIES

Over the last two weeks, I've talked to a lot of writers on the picket line. Not one of them was prepared for the strike. Emotionally, physically or spiritually. None of them ever thought when they checked the YES box on their WGA strike vote card that they'd be walking a picket line and getting hoarse from rhetorical chanting. I'm curious as to what that 90% YES vote would look like if they re-polled the membership today. Don't get me wrong, all the writers, including myself, feel our demands are more than fair, it's just that none of them thought they would have to lose their jobs to make the point. In addiction recovery, there's a saying, "principles before personalities". It's one of the primary reasons why AA, an organization run by recovering alcoholics, is still thriving after seventy years. The idea is that regardless of historical baggage, resentments, perceived wrong doings, or personal beefs, one must always protect "the greater good". In the case of recovery, that greater good is AA as a whole. In the case of the strike, the greater good is the well-being of writers. But it's also the creative community of artists -- writers, actors, directors -- and the entertainment industry at large -- production crews and the hundreds of ancillary businesses.

Let's face it, "big media" (thank you Nikki Finke) has only one "greater good" -- money, the corporate bottom line. That's NEVER going to change. It's the economic foundation of this country. The big seven are a trillion dollar pyramid that will not crack.

To save this town from a devastating blow, the WGA needs to put principles before personalities. At a certain point, the strike hurts more people than it benefits. Media experts have predicted and I agree that a prolonged strike will cripple the television industry. Dealing it a blow from which it may never recover. I write both TV and movies. But TV is my day job. It’s what I love most. It’s what pays my bills. Both my wife and I depend on it to support our family.

The truth is the WGA has to be the one to carry the torch of compromise. We must make the concessions necessary to bring AMPTP back to the table.

Why?

Because, in this relationship, we are the grownups, they are the narcissistic child. We are the functioning individual, they are the self-destructive junkie. We are the fair-minded good guys, they are the unconscionable gluttons. We need to take a step back and look at the big picture. Never mind how fucking big Chernin and Moonves' bonuses are every year. Fuck the rhetoric. Fuck the profit margin. That's shit we have no control over. We will never change their behavior. Did you hear that? We will never change their behavior. They don't give a shit. They don't care that 60% of the public support us. They don't care if we ever go back to work. They will shapeshift into a different business model. They are soulless machines. And if we don't come around and accept that, we are mindless idiots.

I honestly believe there is a solution that will allow us a fair piece of new media. A flexible model that can be re-evaluated in the coming years when there is more hard data. There is a solution if WE are willing to approach the negotiations like wise and respectful human beings. Not like gladiators.

It's time to do what a union is supposed to do, protect its members.

Some may perceive this as bending over. Weakening the cause. Maybe I'll get passed over the next time UTA hands out fuckin' veggie burritos. But I feel the opposite is true. In this fight, it is so very clear to me that cooler heads and humility will prevail. It is also very clear that if this strike is not settled by Christmas... everyone in the entertainment community will take an irreparable hit. One that a couple of extra cents in writer's pockets from digital downloads will not repair.

We must send that message to our leadership. Let's put our dick back in our pants and our hats in our hands. It's time to clean up the mess and settle this. Now.

1 comment:

Craboo said...

I completely agree with everything you've said. I've been saying it since I voted NO on the strike authorization. I believe in everything the WGA is asking for, but profoundly disagree with hardball tactics that got us into a futile strike that in and of itself not only does guarantee results, but prevents us from earning a living in the meantime. We rushed head first into oncoming headlights, never stopping to ask ourselves what would happen if the oncoming vehicle didn't brake. We're about to find out,