Saturday, December 8, 2007

#^*#*)%! AMPTP

Well damn....It looks like the AMPTP was just screwing with the writers (and us TV viewers). Per Nikki Finke, the talks are over (for no damn good reason).

Look, I'm generally pro-corporation. I think for the most part, corporations are reasonable entities and there is no shame in making money or in making hard decisions to make money intelligently. HOWEVER, there is a real and critical difference between hard decisions and heartless decisions. I beleive the AMPTP has crossed that line.

After reading their statement to the WGA (available here) and the comments, I feel a bit conflicted about some of the WGA's demands. Most especially on the issue of the reality and animation writers. The comments include stories pro & con for adding those writers to the WGA umbrella. I don't like or support the fact that when writers for America's Top Model wanted to join the WGA, they were fired. However, I don't agree to any situation where people are required to be members of unions in order to even get a job. The comments also mention several of those instances. I don't really know enough of the industry to side one way of another on this issue.

I know that adding the animation and reality writers has actually been on the table longer BUT I feel the internet residuals issue is the one where the WGA has the strongest and clearest moral case. Speaking to my friends who do not particularly care about the strike beyond it's affect on new episodes for their shows, the internet residuals issue has the broadest public appeal. People really do understand that issue and the writer's perspective with minimal entertainment industry know-how. These other issues are understandably part of the negotiating process but the internet issue to me is the most glaring injustice of the current situation.

But the AMPTP made a critical error I think. What these guys don't appear to realize is that in the age of weblogs, YouTube and webforums, their ability to control broadcast (ie - MSM) news is kinda useless. Anyone with an internet connection can read Nikki Finke or United Hollywood and go to the Fans4Writers forums. I'm a prime example of how badly these guys have miscalculated. I'm NOT in favor of unions in general. I think they are a relic of a dying age. The ONLY reason I am supporting the WGA is because the entertainment industry has one of the most dated and stagnant business models around, so an old-school solution like a strike makes a lot of sense. When 6 companies control the industry, you've got a situation where it's unions or submission. I get that. I don't agree with everything said at the pro-strike web-sites. But even I totally understand that writers deserve to be paid for internet work and $250 is ridiculously ridiculous.

I sincerely hope for the day when the entertainment industry joins the 21st century. When, their economic model doesn't lean so heavily toward the kind of oligarchy that makes unions necessary. Perhaps that day will never come. But how much would the average writer, hyphenate and teamster benefit if they had more options? If they had the power to set their own terms a la Silicon Valley?

The AMPTP asked the WGA to "trust them". They issue press releases like we're supposed to trust them. Considering their behavior before the strike, I find that a reprehensible tactic. What have the AMPTP done to deserve that trust? Nothing. They have acted like every bad cliche of industrial moguls. For that, I hope they drown in pencils.

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