Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Writer's Guild Strike

Writer's Guild Strike, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Monday morning around 8.30AM, my dad and I arrived in sunny Burbank, California at the Bob Hope Regional Airport. It was a bit odd to be in the middle of this big urban sprawl, and land in such a “tiny” airport. (I think it had about 15 gates).

When we arrived we were quickly picked up by my friend JR who lives in East Hollywood, and who showed us tons of kindness and gave us a tour as we made our way to El Segundo, California where I left my wallet (Inside joke), and we met up with my brother for the next leg of our journey.

While driving through Burbank, we went by a few Studios, including this shot at the Universal Studios back lot, and witnessed firsthand the Writer’s Guild Strike.

How ironic—I mean, I just recently took the plunge and got cable for the house, and now the writers of all of those great and highly addictive TV shows like Heroes are going to potentially run out of material. (I was really looking forward to at least a five season addiction with this show!)

So the guild is on strike, but why? According to one banner I saw, the reason is greed. As we were driving down the 101 toward Hollywood, I saw a “banner” (big spray-painted sheet) which said, “Six greedy moguls are killing LA!!!”

While talking with JR, he explained to me that there are about 250,000 people who are affected by this strike. 250,000 jobs are being brought to a halt simply because television stations don’t want to pay their writers more money as they expand profits through all sorts of media representations of the writer’s work. For instance, the episodes of your favorite shows that are available online through network websites don’t have any direct benefit for the writers.

Of course it would possible to say that the writers are being greedy too, but, as a writer, I don’t see any problem with defending one’s writing right to receive benefit from their art. I have heard that it has been about 20 years since the writers have had an opportunity to negotiate a new contract. 20 years!!! Just think how much technology and media have changed since 1987, and you might understand the protest.

Twenty years ago, cable wasn’t digital. There weren’t dvd’s of our favorite shows available at best buy. We couldn’t download episodes of TV off itunes, or even watch them streamed from the internet. Our cable wasn’t HD and there weren’t hundreds of channels to chose from. A lot has changed in 20 years that has significant bearing on how we “kick back and watch TV”

What do you think about the strike? To be honest, I hadn’t really considered the reality of what an effect this situation might have until I drove by the studios. Now, I’m thinking about 250,000 people who are in the industry and how your life and mine will be impacted by how this strike pans out. It isn’t just 250,000 people in the industry who will be affected by this—there are even more people who are outside the industry whose livelihood is being affected by this strike. Who is going to be their advocate? When any of us fail to pursue right relationships with those around us, we affect people far beyond our immediate circle—and yet, we so seldom think about that—maybe today could be a little different.


ck said...

The creative professions have always had to fight hard prove their worth for some reason. People will shell out more and more money for legal representation and medical treatment, but ask a reasonable fee for design or writing or art and they say, "thanks, but no thanks." It seems to be an American condition to me.

BigMama said...

I'm definitely on the side of the writers on this one. People should be compensated for their craft. Seinfeld on DVD is just as entertaining to me as it is on the television and there's no reason why they shouldn't receive financial benefit for that entertainment.

Plus, just when I was ready to quit watching Heroes (I can only stand a chapter cliffhanger so long), it sucked me back in when we found out who Adam is! And if I don't get to see what happens with that, it's gonna' be a rough winter. ;-D

Willie said...

You left your wallet in El Segundo, You gotta get it, you got, got to get it.

You are so funny! Well at least I laughed for 5 minutes about it.