Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Donkeys and Elephants

The U.S. presidential election is now less than a year away. If I had one wish over the next twelve months it would this: that everyone could please remember that your political opinions are just that, opinions. There are smart people with good ideas on both sides of the fence, to completely demonize the "other" party is both childish and naive. Neither party has all the answers, no candidate can possibly be everything to everyone. I get so tired of reading blogs and having conversations where people behave as though they have PhD's in Political Science when most of what they know comes from John Stewart or Bill O'Reilly. Read, research, LISTEN. If you are able to completely dismiss the party you don't support, then you need to keep researching. No one is right about everything and it's dangerous when you start thinking they are...

I guess I'm all fired up about people popping off about things they don't understand as I read about this writer's strike. In a nutshell, the writer's are striking to get a fair percentage of the residuals that come from online/DVD/various other new ways we will figure out to distribute entertainment in the future sales. I have read over and over, "hollywood writers make plenty of money doing a job that is mostly fun, why are they whining about this!". They are whining about it because lots of people are making lots of money off their work and they would like to be fairly compensated for it. So in a way, when you tell the writers to shut up about residuals, you are telling the studios you would like them to keep a bigger part of the pie than they already do. And I have this sneaking suspicion that the same people who think Hollywood writers (who live mostly at the bottom of the pay scale in that town) already make too much, these are not people that are super excited to be putting more pennies in Sumner Redstone's gilded coffers. But I guess if as far as you get in forming your opinion is "hey people with fancy jobs want a raise! not fair!" without doing an ounce of research into what the situation really is, I get why you might get heart palapitations. Too bad that's not the whole story though isn't it?

Maybe a strike isn't the best way to solve a problem, and maybe it's hard to muster sympathy for WGA members who have chosen a career path that isn't exactly akin to feeding orphans. But when you boil it down, there is an unfair situation happening that needs to be addressed. I usually feel guilty when I ask for a raise because hey, I'm not curing cancer and my salary takes good care of me. But my company benefits from my talents in a way that gains revenue. It's only fair that I get to see a reasonable share of that revenue. This is one of the best quotes I've read about what the writers want:

A residual isn't a handout or an allowance or Paris Hilton's trust fund. It's not a lottery payout, or alimony, or an annuity from a slip and fall accident at a casino.

A residual is a deferred payment against the lifetime value of a script.

It's not a perk.

It's okay if you didn't know that. It's in the best interests of a lot of fairly large corporations that you don't.


Obviously I'm in support of the writers, even if it means TV might start to stink here in awhile (maybe I can finally catch up on the PBS documentary The War that has been sitting in the DVR for weeks), I understand if you aren't. But get some facts in your pocket before you tell me why you oppose it. I still may choose to disagree but I promise to listen and consider.

8 comments:

Morgan said...

From my understanding of the WGA strike, the main sticking point isn't the fact that the writers want residuals on digital distribution. The problem is that they are asking for "too much" which stems from the fact that they were taken to the cleaners during the last negotiations regarding residuals on DVDs. Additionally, they are asking for what may or may not be a large percentage of an unproven, emerging technology. It is hard to determine how much money the studios will make from digital distribution, whether it be ad revenue from streaming replays of episodic television or per download fees, so it is hard to determine what is a fair allotment for the writers. It will be interesting to see how this all shakes out.

k8 said...

good clarification. i didn't mean to make it sound like writers aren't getting ANY residuals right now. but yes, the last time they negotiated for VHS/DVD rights they got a major shaft that they are trying to right. i guess we're about to find out just how crucial writers are to entertainment aren't we?

Cristin Lassen said...

That was a good post. I have a feeling that this won't go on for too long. I mean, there will probably a lull in original programming for maybe a month, but they've got to come to an agreement sooner or later. Right? I'm hoping.

Miss Hass said...

Well-stated.

vfg said...

so well said on the political parties.

i get so tired...

Mike said...

I have no issue with the WGA strike.

It's amazing how the "trickle down" affect comes into play. I'm a tv buyer for two of the top five markets in the land. I'm optimistic too that it won't go on for long...as I toil away with 2008 right now, in the back of my mind is concern that my long hours of tedious estimating will be thrown out the window should no deal be reached.

I'll end as I started...I have no issue with the WGA strike.

La Dolcezza said...

"Neither party has all the answers, no candidate can possibly be everything to everyone."

Thank you! So true.

I really hope TV doesn't start to suck too bad, because sometimes I like it.

The McFersons (Jayd/Tauni) said...

Capitalism 101: Capitalist pays worker-bee as little as possible to produce as much as possible and still maintain some semblance of a "happy" marriage. If worker-bee never says "screw this, I want more", then the system goes unchecked (always bad). So, hell yeah, go writers.