Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Writing about the Writers Strike...

...is getting really, really boring.

Perhaps it's because of America's collective addiction to the TV set, but we really cannot understand why the writer's strike has captivated so much media attention (Google lists over 1,700 stories on the topic).

Karl Marx once proclaimed that religion is the opiate of the masses; however, he never tuned into American Idol, Desperate Housewives, or Monday Night Football. Talk about opiates...

The Golden Globes ceremony has been scrapped...(yawn).

The Oscars may be next...(Zzzz).

Then there's the faux sympathy for the strikers (see Letterman and Obrien) as some late night talk-show hosts return to the air. And don't forget the faux anger from other late night talk show hosts who decided to become strike-breakers (see Colbert's sarcastic 'I don't like union's and I don't need writers' comment).

And, poor, poor Jay Leno, the doughnut-bearing friend of the strikers who now may be put on trial by the Writer Guild for (gasp!) writing his own jokes.

Why it's enough to make the average American...

...go to sleep.

However, there is the occasional moment of interest like today's op-ed in the LA Times from writer John Ridley on why he decided to become a financial core member and the hassle he's had to endure as a WGA member over the last 15 years.

So, what exactly is the issue that has over 10,000 writers out on the streets and the media in such a snit?
(Drum roll please...)

Residual payments for the writers when their content is put out on the internet or DVD. That's it in a nutshell.

The writers want more money when their products are used outside the boob tube and the producers are saying 'no.'

End of story. Time for REM.

That said, from time to time, we get comments from our blog readers that we like to post. A couple of days ago, we got an anonymous comment on our blog that really put the whole issue of the striking writers into perspective, as follows:
A writer has no more claim to downstream income than a set designer or a caterer, they are all just components in a complex business process that involves many people in many roles, from Janitor to Financier...
Ka-BOOM!

Like a clap of thunder, this anonymous reader's comment kicked the living crap out of our ho-hum, we're-so-bored-and-could-care-less observations on this whole stupid scribe strike.

The more we thought about it, the more pathetic the writers' claim for their strike seems.

Our reader is right.

If a worker is paid for his work on a product, should that worker be paid more if the buyer of that work has found other uses for it? Wouldn't that basically be double-dipping?...Getting paid for your product, then getting paid for it again and again and again?

We think that's the fundamental question that should be answered. So, in an effort to further define this, let's apply it to other industries.

Sports. Michael Jordan gets paid a gazillion dollars to play for the Chicago Bulls. He plays, he gets paid. Although he makes a gazillion more dollars on endorsing underwear and sneakers, he doesn't get paid every time a re-run of his jump shot is shown, does he? Nah.

Medicine. The Jarvik dude on TV who invented the artificial heart has made a ton of money, right? Hell, he invented a ticker that keeps ticking when your real one doesn't--that's something, right? Well, anyway, he got a patent on his pumper, and probably gets a legal kickback whenever someone installs one of his pumpers. BUT (here's the question), if one of the recipients of his pumps kicks the bucket and another doc reuses the same pumper, does Jarvik get to double dip?

How about this example: If you work in a lawnmower factory and you build a lawn mower, you should be entitled to some recompense for every blade of grass your mower mows?

You think that's ridiculous, don't you?

Well, what's the difference?

If you're writing a story and being paid for that story at the time of product delivery, why does the buyer of your story need to keep paying you over and over again?

Seems to us, that's double-dipping and that's what the writer's are striking for.

Now, if you'll pardon us, we're going to watch some re-runs so we can fall back to sleep...

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