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November 14, 2007 11:07 AM   Subscribe

 
Awesome. Perhaps some enterprising network can compile these and show them on the air....
posted by gurple at 11:09 AM on November 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's the big names which are getting the press because the media is trying to keep people's short attention span when they mention it, but this is really about the little guy. The writing industry is feast or famine, and just cuz with feast comes some notoriety, that doesn't mean the ones we don't see, the ones in the famine category, or in the "no insurance" and "no college education for their children" and maybe even "no making ends meet from month to month without being a waiter part time or something," don't exist.

I'd like to see more videos showing those guys, but most people would just click away to see a dude on a skateboard racking himself. ...come to think of it i might be one of those people.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:24 AM on November 14, 2007


You know, if this gets Ze Frank doing The Show again, I'll consider the strike a net win.
posted by adamrice at 11:29 AM on November 14, 2007


Go Writers!

Look - I was in heaven when actual shows came back after the "reality-drought". I watch TV to escape, the last thing I want to see is a bunch of people backstabbing and cliquing like it was high-school all over again.

It's gotten to the point that I really only watch TV if I have PVR'd the show, or purchased a DVD box-set.

To find out how badly writers are getting shafted on said box-sets was eye-opening, but unfortunately not surprising.

Interesting opinion by a tech & sci-fi author - Jeff Duntemann on the strike - here.
posted by jkaczor at 11:30 AM on November 14, 2007


It's gotten to the point that I really only watch TV if I have PVR'd the show, or purchased a DVD box-set.

Or rent it from Netflix, that's what I do. No commercials and I can watch it on my own time. Plus if a show/season is a stinker, I hear ahead of time and can skip it.
posted by DU at 11:38 AM on November 14, 2007


I CAN HAS JOB BACK?
posted by phaedon at 11:38 AM on November 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


Personally, I hope both the writers and the studio heads end up pawing through my trash for returnables. I would root for the writers, because every decent person wants to root for the little guy against the machine. But then I remember how television writers make a good living insulting our intelligence and I think that a winter eating government cheese might make them try harder next time.

Isn't it a sad state of affairs that the only powerful unions left represent assholes like government bureaucrats, cops and the people who write "Two and a Half Men"? Big Bill Haywood is crying somewhere.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:41 AM on November 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Seeing all this footage of Hollywood writers really brings home what a white boys club it is down there.
posted by serazin at 11:45 AM on November 14, 2007 [1 favorite]




Do any of these explain why they churn out so much garbage year after year?
posted by acetonic at 12:02 PM on November 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


Sure, a lot of writers put out a lot of crap. But more than a handful of writers put out stuff that is absolutely worth watching (and re-watching, and remembering).

The studio heads are greedy assholes. I saw footage of one of them gloating about how much product that her particular studio had stockpiled in anticipation of the strike and I wanted to throw a chair through the TV screen. So, yeah, go writers.
posted by blucevalo at 12:05 PM on November 14, 2007




television writers make a good living insulting our intelligence...

Well, they may be insulting your intelligence (stop watching Two and a Half Men!), but by and large, they're not making a good living. This is from The Late Show with David Letterman writer Bill Scheft:

There are 12,000 writers in the guild. You need to make $30,000 a year in guild earnings to keep your health insurance. Last year, 6000 didn't reach that figure. Half.
posted by PlusDistance at 12:25 PM on November 14, 2007


I think it's hilarious that the WGA is farting out these pathetic videos on Youtube. Actors prancing around. Bringing their kids along for the ride. Totally playing the "good, little guy" hand. I mean, don't get me wrong. I get how life can seem unfair - Tom Freston was fired from Viacom and received a $60mil severance package, more than all of the DVD residuals paid to all WGA members combined, that year.

But I read a great line somewhere. Something like, "Why fuck only your enemies, when you can fuck your friends, too." So please don't make me cry over writers, when below-the-line crews are the ones getting raped during this stalemate.

But the studios I think are being smart. No need to rush things, baby. And in a couple of months, a tidal wave will have been created and we'll see who it comes crashing down on. Audiences will be slow to react. Advertisers don't give a shit what's in between their commercials. And at the end of the strike, whatever arrangement has been made - that is, whatever product Hollywood produces once its up and running again - will need to be distributed and marketed with millions and millions of somebody's dollars. And the giant corporations that are running this town can take the hit in the meantime. That stranglehold isn't going anywhere.
posted by phaedon at 12:28 PM on November 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well, we all know who phaedon supports. Good show, buddy!
posted by grubi at 12:36 PM on November 14, 2007


@Phaedon, and the IATSE strike isn't affecting anyone else in New York?
posted by cazoo at 12:37 PM on November 14, 2007


Everytime someone puts "WGA" on a website I see "Windows Genuine Advantage" and a little part of me dies inside.


What?
posted by disclaimer at 12:46 PM on November 14, 2007


below-the-line crews are the ones getting raped during this stalemate.

Well, they certainly learn their place in the system.
posted by smackfu at 12:55 PM on November 14, 2007


Hey, those are "below-the-line" guys striking on Broadway... howza bout that.

If the 'giant corporations' and their 'stranglehold' doesn't go anywhere, it'll only be because the Writers and other Hollywood Creatives can't figure out how to do an effective end run in this era of New Media. The "millions and millions of somebody's dollars" for distribution can come from lots of other sources; damn near every multi-millionaire who got rich in other businesses wants to get into Show Biz. And the millions for marketing? Not totally unneeded but much less so in the New Media. A lot of (if not most) Creatives really don't want the responsibility and risk of truly running their own show (why be a writer if you can't quit the 'real job'?), and very few of them have seen it as a viable option before now. Maybe after a few months out, they'll get the message; maybe not.
posted by wendell at 12:55 PM on November 14, 2007


Well, they may be insulting your intelligence (stop watching Two and a Half Men!)

Just so no one gets the wrong idea, I've never seen it, even if I implied that I knew firsthand that it's terrible. I see the ads whilst watching a different show on CBS that I am too embarrassed to admit that I watch (but which is ostensibly unscripted). But just the ads for "Two and a Half Men" make me hate America.
posted by Mayor Curley at 1:07 PM on November 14, 2007


The only reasons I turn on the TV anymore are to watch DVDs I already have, and occasionally to watch episodes of Heroes. This second season, I've begun regretting becoming addicted to Heroes, because it stopped being cool somewhere late last season, and started being a soap opera. One man's trash and all that.

It would be in your own best interest to stop saying you don't care about the writer's strike cuz TV sucks recently. This is about much more than what you see immediately on your proverbial plate.

This is about the future of new media, and whether or not writer's deserve a fair shake in that future. This isn't about the financially wealthy of today. It's about the artistic wealth of tomorrow.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:26 PM on November 14, 2007


Okay, I was promised a jump in the post, and I haven't gotten yet. I'm not leaving until I get that jump you were talking about.
posted by koeselitz at 1:30 PM on November 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm just pointing out that there is nothing inherently "good" about the WGA's position. There's nowhere written in "Jesus's Book on How to Run A Company The Right Way" that says writers deserve a percentage of anything. So why tap into my feelings of "the little guy needs my sympathy"? I work below the line, I don't hear anyone crying about the possibility I might lose my job as a result of somebody else not getting their residuals. Where are my Youtube videos with Eva Longoria and Mr. Dangle in them? I'm not saying anybody is more at fault here - but enough with the implied rhetoric. And yet we continue to purify the WGA on MeFi with holy water.

And this strike isn't about picking sides, as the rift that is now still something of a joke will expand, multiply, and run much deeper than it does right now. This false sense of anxiety, that forces are moving towards a consensus, that somehow if the WGA corners the market on "good" then everything will be solved - that is, going on tv and telling me their demands are ideologically sound - that public opinion matters, or that maybe the more writers strike outside the lot and picket is solving anything in itself, is a joke. I believe the studios are looking at this as an opportunity to clean house.

I just want to add the economics of the situation don't upset me as much as the "poor me" rhetoric of the writer's guild, which in itself is an elitist organization. From a production standpoint, my heart doesn't swell with pride as the WGA tries to secure more privileges. Studios are now looking for more reality television content as a response to the strike - game shows, documentaries, etc. - and isn't an enterpreneuring producer supposed to meet that demand? Or is he ethically prohibited from working on unscripted shows? Writers striking in the US? Go find a writer in the UK. Frick, the WGA just wants me to fall in love with them or something.
posted by phaedon at 1:32 PM on November 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


If being a writer for the entertainment industry is such a rough lifestyle and most are just scraping by, it would behoove them to a) have known this prior to going in (although I firmly suspect they did) and b) finding a way to support themselves through the lean times. Otherwise it's a great deal of whinging about how they are creative and it's in their blood--which doesn't deserve an ounce of sympathy or monetary renumeration.

In short: no one is making them stick with such a feast-or-famine career.
posted by gsh at 2:01 PM on November 14, 2007


I am so ever-loving tired of people blaming the rank-and-file staff writers for the perceived crappy quality of TV shows.

1. The vast majority of the viewing public likes and strongly supports the very shows that offend self-identifying "literate" viewers. This is no different from the demographic split for mainstream vs. art film, mainstream vs. various niche music genres, bestseller vs. "serious" novels or Thomas Kinkade vs. actual painting.

2. TV staff writers write what they are told to, not what they choose to. The writer-producers/showrunners have somewhat more creative control, but that's hardly the same as total creative freedom. The producers, network people, advertisers, and audiences are the ultimate Deciders about the caliber of program that gets greenlighted, makes it onto the air, and survives more than a few episodes.

3. Shows that do feature lively, literate, clever, challenging writing do so because a creator-writer-producer with a whole lot of clout as well as vision is at the helm, and those folks aren't necessarily a dime a dozen -- just as there aren't an unlimited supply of Ingmar Bergmans lying around. On any non-premium broadcast or cable network, such shows are grossly, disproportionally likely to go down in flames within a few weeks. We can all list about 20 intelligent, non-cookie-cutter programs we adored that were summarily axed. And then their writers go fleeing to premium cable channels, but there are only so many jobs for them at HBO and Showtime. Very few consistently well-written shows last more than a couple of seasons. Stuff like Seinfeld and The Simpsons are freakish exceptions.
posted by FelliniBlank at 2:06 PM on November 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


gsh, as I said before, most writers don't make a living at it. They are doing other jobs -- waiting tables, etc. -- to make it through the "lean times," which are all the time.

That's not what they're complaining about. The WGA isn't demanding some kind of magical end to their members' financial problems. They're simply saying that the people who create a show deserve a tiny percentage of its new-media profits, just as they get a tiny percentage of its old-media profits.

It's a bargaining position. It's not whining.
posted by PlusDistance at 2:25 PM on November 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


And by the way, the media companies have a bargaining position too. They say they're not making any money from new media, they don't know if they'll ever make money from new media, and the writers are hurting their efforts to grow new media. Is that whining, too?
posted by PlusDistance at 2:30 PM on November 14, 2007


"After the jump"?

Fuck that.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:34 PM on November 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


TV staff writers write what they are told to, not what they choose to. The writer-producers/showrunners have somewhat more creative control, but that's hardly the same as total creative freedom. The producers, network people, advertisers, and audiences are the ultimate Deciders about the caliber of program that gets greenlighted, makes it onto the air, and survives more than a few episodes.

So the writers are less the artists they claim to be and more whores, yeah? I would soften towards them if they accurately depicted themselves. Whores deserve to reap what's theirs, but Christine Keeler shouldn't claim she's Picasso.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:50 PM on November 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


So the writers are less the artists they claim to be and more whores, yeah? I would soften towards them if they accurately depicted themselves. Whores deserve to reap what's theirs, but Christine Keeler shouldn't claim she's Picasso.

Inasmuch as anyone who works for a living is a "whore", yes.
posted by stammer at 3:17 PM on November 14, 2007 [5 favorites]


To be fair, the Battlestar Galactica webisodes sucked pretty hard.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:35 PM on November 14, 2007


posted by phaedon Advertisers don't give a shit what's in between their commercials.

Oh yes, yes they do. Just ask any advertiser who's purchsed airtime during the SuperBowl, or Dog The Bounty Hunter.
posted by fandango_matt at 4:04 PM on November 14, 2007


This post is worthwhile just for the Hydrox reference in the Seth MacFarlane video.

God did Hydrox suck. I didn't know as a kid that they were poor people cookies, or how much better Oreos are.
posted by rollbiz at 4:16 PM on November 14, 2007


"So the writers are less the artists they claim to be and more whores, yeah? I would soften towards them if they accurately depicted themselves. Whores deserve to reap what's theirs, but Christine Keeler shouldn't claim she's Picasso."

Get thee behind me, Picasso.

Artists have always been at the mercy of their patrons. If you are a painter and you are charged with making a mural with lotsa pretty flowers and the person who hires you pays you lots of money and you respond by making a mural of naked people writhing in hellfire, I don't care how much you rant and wail about artistic integrity, the person who hired you to make pretty flowers will fire you, probably not pay you, and tell everyone else within reach of their power and influence that you are a crazy person who can't take direction. By the way, the same holds true if you were told to paint naked people in hellfire and instead you paint cute flowers.

It's the contemporary artists who understand this concept and act upon it who excel financially in their chosen art form, not because what they make is good, but cuz they can sell what they create, because they listen to what their patrons want them to create for money. Is that whoring? Or is that economics?The average economist would tell you there's not really a difference, mathematically speaking. It's a matter of perception.

In other words: YES! Picasso was! Very much so! He gave his public what they wanted. He painted what he could sell. He was a sellout, and no doubt if he lived today he would laughingly agree with me. Being a sellout is only a bad thing to the pretentious and the jealous. I should know. I used to be both.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:32 PM on November 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


They all seem so... scripted.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 5:30 PM on November 14, 2007


Wait til force majeure kicks in. Then the party starts!
posted by phaedon at 5:43 PM on November 14, 2007


posted by ZachsMind [Picasso] gave his public what they wanted. He painted what he could sell. He was a sellout, and no doubt if he lived today he would laughingly agree with me.

When you write stuff like this, are you copying it from Zach's Big Book of Bullshit, or did you take notes while you talked out of your ass?
posted by fandango_matt at 6:37 PM on November 14, 2007


Hey, I like Zach's Big Book of Bullshit. It's the perfect book for bathroom reading and the pages tear out easily for 'alternate use'.
posted by wendell at 6:57 PM on November 14, 2007


Not the Daily Show by some writer.
posted by garlic at 7:22 PM on November 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Cool! Cameo appearance by John Oliver in the clip garlic links to.
posted by adamrice at 7:52 PM on November 14, 2007


I've been on the internet my whoooole life. And I've never understood "after the jump."
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:25 PM on November 14, 2007


When you write stuff like this, are you copying it from Zach's Big Book of Bullshit, or did you take notes while you talked out of your ass?

It would be very odd to imagine that Picasso didn't take his market into consideration at some level. He was certainly fond of money.
posted by Wolof at 4:16 AM on November 15, 2007


They say they're not making any money from new media, they don't know if they'll ever make money from new media, and the writers are hurting their efforts to grow new media. Is that whining, too?

If that's the position they're taking, It's difficult to believe when they go on the air and say stuff referred to in this pro-WGA video.
posted by AccidentalHedonist at 1:48 PM on November 15, 2007


fandango_matt, you're taking my opinion so personally. Are you worshipping at the temple of the Picasso? Sorry to burst your bubble. He was a man who had bills to pay.

I am currently in the market for a publishing distributor. Or maybe a literary agent.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:14 PM on November 15, 2007


More relevant "videolog blogging": Colbert Report writers parody a greedy producer.
posted by progosk at 2:22 PM on November 16, 2007




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