Thoughts On The WGA Strike

For around a week, I’ve not posted anything to my blog because I knew that I wanted to comment on the Writer’s Strike in some fashion. But the problem was that I didn’t really think that I was really informed enough to really debate it or honestly to form my own coherent opinion on the issue. Until around just a few days before it happened, I didn’t really even know what the problem between the WGA and the studios really was. And shame on me, really. Since it is basically over New Media, I should have been all over it.

But after mulling over the issue for some time, I find myself even more upset and torn over the whole affair than I ever was before I researched it. In a nutshell, the writers are protesting the studios over an overly outdated contract that in no way pays them throughout the years as their work is repurposed into newer venues. Though no one is really saying it, it’s namely over the profits from services such as iTunes. It also includes DVD’s and streaming and such, but download and on-demand services have been acknowledged as the future by this whole squabble, and that’s what it’s really about. As for that point, I’m certainly on the side of the writers. They are definitely within their rights to demand that they receive fair pay from past work, and opposingly the studios are not within theirs to receive pure profit over that repurposed media.

But to my own shock, that’s as far as I’m willing to support them. Of course, I’m all about giving The Man a hard time when it comes to getting the media conglomerates to dish out the pay everyone deserves. But I really think that the writers might be barking up the wrong tree. This article tipped the scale for me earlier this week when it made me come to a grim realization. One that I already knew to begin with. Hollywood pay is exceedingly out of proportion. It’s simply not logical for a director or actor to be siphoning all of the production value from high cost films.  Let’s put it in perspective.  It’s not unexpected for a film to cost upwards of $100 million to $200 million to produce.  Actors such as Will Smith, Tom Hanks, or George Clooney have made $20 to $30 million for their roles in top tier films.  (To be fair, Clooney was paid $1 for his work on Good Night, and Good Luck.  Though that was his pet project.)

That’s ten to twenty percent of the entire budget.  And unless you are an Akiva Goldsmith, it’s likely that you won’t be paid one measly million.  That all says that they’ve got every right to strike, but it also says that perhaps they should be taking their beef to those on other fronts as well.  Why this disproportional and blatantly unfair practice isn’t an issue during this strike is beyond me.  It sucks that we will be going without Conan, Stephen Colbert, and sooner or later the better prime time shows for some time.  And even more so that we’ll be dealing with our time’s most retarded TV and film before we know it.  Unfortunately, it’s a necessary evil.  One that perhaps isn’t fully dealing with the problem anyways.

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