9.11.07

Writers Wrong

No, you are not seeing things. This is a new entry. After 50 days of not writing here, I am starting again. Part of the reason is that I needed time to work on a Halloween-related side project which will be posted online soon. But I will be resuming my posts. And apparently just in time, as there seems to be a shortage of writers willing to work in this country.

I am referring, of course, to the strike by the Writers Guild of America. 12,000 movie and television writers have decided that they no longer wish to receive paychecks for doing their jobs. And so, I would think that Hollywood execs and producers are in the market for writers who are new, cheap, and morally ambiguous. I fit all three.

I am aware that it is now popular to side with the WGA. After all, they have celebrities on their side! And, surprise surprise, numerous writers have backed them. This does not mean that you or I have to support them. I find it extremely distasteful to see all the reports of various TV actors and personalities supporting the WGA strike. This is a classic advertising/propaganda technique. Sure you may like Jay Leno (in which case I should start using smaller words for you), but him giving out donuts does not somehow make the WGA right. These actors that you love so much and want to side with have their own agendas. The sooner the strike is over, the sooner they can go back to work, and get paid. And more than a few of them are also members of the WGA.

Now I would never think of crossing picket lines simply to sell a few scripts I have written (though God by Machine, An American Revolution, and The Legend of Jesus can be ready for production shortly). Instead, I am offering to cross picket lines because I philosophically disagree with the WGA and their demands.

My first problem with the WGA is their demand for residuals from online viewing of their shows. The argument is that writers get paid every time their shows get aired on TV, but not when their shows are shown online, since the networks consider online content "promotional material". My view is different. I think you should get paid fairly for doing a job (writing a show or a movie), and when that job is done, then you need to find another job to do if you want to get paid again. Writers don't have any "rights" to residuals. If you finish something and sell it, then you got paid for your work. Again, if you want to earn more money, then do more work.

If I paint a picture and then sell it to someone, the picture becomes theirs. They can show it to whoever they want, as many times as they want, without having to keep paying me more. If a band performs a song, they should get paid every time they perform the song. If someone records that performance, the recording should become the property of the person who recorded it, and they should be able to play it as they wish without owing the band or the band's producers anything. So in addition to the WGA's demands for online residuals, I also have problems with DRM on music files, the DMCA, copyright law in general, and that statement at the end of baseball games prohibiting me from discussing what I just saw.

If I build a car and sell it to you, you don't have to pay me extra every time you drive it. If I make a shirt and sell it to you, you don't have to pay me extra every time you wear it. The fact that writing is not a physical object should make it worth less, and give it less rights.

And aren't there other people who help make movies and television shows? You know, the last 4 minutes of credits that you don't bother watching. Do they get paid residuals for their work? And though they may be content just doing their jobs and collecting their paychecks, they can't now because the WGA strike has put them all out of jobs.

And that leads me to my second problem with the WGA. There is no reason why producers can't hire non union writers to take over. If some writers won't write without contracts giving them online residuals, then the producers should be free to hire other writers who have lesser demands. It should be up to whoever is buying the script to decide if the first writer is enough of a better writer to be worth the extra demands.

The WGA has every right to demand more money, but they need to realize that there are other people out there who are more than willing to do their jobs for less. And not all of them are illegal Mexican immigrants.

I do not claim to be a good writer, but I am available, I am cheap, and I have no problem screwing over the union. So if anyone out there is looking for for a writer who fits that bill, give me a call. And for everyone else, you can call me a scab if you want, I won't be insulted. A scab is an essential function of the body that allows it to heal wounds.

2 Comments:

Blogger Brad V said...

Yay! you're back

Good points.

13/11/07 20:28  
Blogger Erik Opsal said...

I disagree. I would only refute your points by saying exactly the opposite, so I'll just leave it at that and not waste either of our time.

15/11/07 21:44  

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