December 10, 2007

"Didn't You Ask for This?"

Blackjack isn't too sympathetic to the cause of writers who are on strike:

Don't go on strike if the managment can easily replace you and the public really doesn't give a damn. The networks will simply pump out shows like Who Wants to Hump a Hooters Waitress and you'll watch them, because that kind of stuff amuses you.

What, you are taking umbrage at my comment? That Tila Tequila show is a hit, for crying out loud. Why should the studios listen to writers bitch about DVD royalties when the viewing public will watch a Vietnamese skank whose most notable achievement was adding a shitload of friends to her Myspace page?

I'd advise the writers to get back to work if they can before our entertainment devolves even further. Moore's law has nothing on the speed of that.

Can good television and film writers be replaced "easily"? Yes, and no: No, because it's hard to find good writers. Yes, because the average studio executive, while having a sort of ratlike cunning, possesses the eye for quality of a piece of plankton.

If more executives were looking for quality, the market would change for writers in Los Angeles, and getting a good property optioned/made wouldn't be so much like winning the mother-fucking lottery.

Instead of seeking quality and originality, studios look for what's made money in the past (The Harry Potter franchise; The Passion of the Christ) and make something that reminds them as much of that as possible, but without any pro-religion or pro-Democracy messages that may have crept into the prototype (The Golden Compass). If the film industry were all about the market, why would it be losing money like crazy on a boatload of anti-war, anti-American crap? Particularly when even Bruce Willis can't gain support for a movie about American successes in Iraq, based on the writing of Michael Yon?

And now the idiots in the studios would like writers to bend over and grab their ankles so they can get fucked in the ass just as hard on the internet as they have with DVD/VHS distribution. And reality show/animation writers can continue to get locked out of the Guild—which they'd like to be in, and which would like to have them.

Let me break it to you, kids: the cost of producing movies will continue to go down. The public will continue to seek its entertainment (verbal, visual, and audio) on the internet. Truly independent filmmakers will be able to market their work in better ways.

And in the long term, my friends, those of you who act as gatekeepers for television and film content are going to lose. Because the walls and and the gates are coming down.

As Deborah Harry would say: Bye-bye, Sugar—and not a moment too soon.

Posted by Attila Girl at December 10, 2007 08:09 AM | TrackBack

"Accusing guild leaders of pursuing “an ideological mission far removed from the interests of their members,” representatives of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers expressed outrage over continuing demands of the writers that were not strictly related to pay.

These include requests for jurisdiction over those who write for reality TV shows and animated movies; for oversight of the fair-market value of intracompany transactions that might affect writer pay; and the elimination of a no-strike clause that prevents guild members from honoring the picket lines of other unions once a contract is reached.

The tone of shock in the producers’ statement seemed a bit artificial, as Mr. Verrone has for months laid out his plan to elevate the writers’ industry status. Yet their anger is genuine. Executives know that to concede the writers’ noneconomic demands would lead to a radical shift in industry power. Only a death wish, for instance, would prod companies to let one union walk out in support of another, particularly on the eve of negotiations with both the Directors Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild, whose contracts expire in June. “It’s kind of like saying ‘Oh, while we’re in the middle of this knife fight, I demand the right to have a gun next time,’ a comment on a screenwriters’ blog, The Artful Writer, said.

Similarly, company negotiators know that to grant jurisdiction over workers not currently represented by the guild would bring up against legal questions — can they impose union membership on a unit whose members have not signed up? And it would lead to a collision with other unions.

That matter provoked a blast on Friday night. Thomas C. Short, president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, which already represents some reality and animation writers, compared the writers’ guild leadership to “a huge clown car that’s only missing the hats and horns.”

Posted by: Darrell at December 10, 2007 12:44 PM

Yes. Except that the animation/reality writers thing is there as a bargaining chip. My husband will be on one of the first rafts to be jettisoned and set adrift. (Wait. I don't think that metaphor worked. Can I re-write this later?)

The point is, the AMPTP is not bargaining in good faith--they walked away from the talks.

Posted by: Attila Girl at December 10, 2007 03:01 PM

If more executives were looking for quality, the market would change for writers in Los Angeles, and getting a good property optioned/made wouldn't be so much like winning the mother-fucking lottery.

Attila, what motivation do the executives have for quality if the viewing public will happily swallow crap and ask for seconds?

I know it sounds like I bag on the writers. Really, my disgust lies with the viewing public. I just think the writers haven't seen the writing on the wall and come to grips with what little leverage they have. That's all.

Posted by: Blackjack at December 10, 2007 06:27 PM

But when the extra effort is put into quality writing and good production values, they do make money--and more than they do on schlock.

I understand your point: "the masses are asses." Beta vs. VHS, and all that.

But I've seen good work, and I've seen it bring in money hand over fist. (Recently, the Harry Potter series and Lord of the Rings both were decent semblances of fine, existing books. Why not bring other children's classics to life, instead of endlessly remaking sitcoms from the 1960s?)

Posted by: Attila Girl at December 11, 2007 12:53 AM

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