Why the WGA has Done Exactly Shit for me
February 15, 2008
I’m against unions, so I’m generally against striking. I’m also against producers and against the way story and content has been drifting into sewage over the last thirty years so I’m having a hard time finding anyone to root for in this fight.
So here I am selling my first big project in 2001 and before I can make my 500k the studio says I have to join a communist, mafia-like guild before they can do the deal. I want to work, make a living on my craft and some people in this town charge a toll for that honor so I joined the Writer’s Guild. I instantly had to cut them a percentage of my check…I was in the guild after all and that’s sort of how it works. They forget about me, I give them some money and they remind me of how much I need them to tell stories in this town.
I remember my orientation meeting at the WGA where everyone around the table was asking how they can become a full member to qualify for insurance and I was asking how to get out. The leader of the orientation didn’t enjoy my lack of respect for the Hollywood Vatican and just shook his head at me in disgust. He told us new members that we might be interested in joining the many WGA writer’s groups: The Latina Writers, the Gay Lesbian Alliance of Writers, the African American Writers (I kind of wanted to join that one). I asked if there was a Republican Writing group and he said with a straight face, “You’re not going to fucking last around here.”
Fuck you you fucking commie clown. I didn’t crawl out of the mud drawing and writing every damned day of my life to get permission from you to tell a fucking story on the bigscreen. So go snort more coke off the small of your receptionist’s back. ‘For the people’ my hairy, lazy, unemployed ass.
That said, the WGA had the moral upper hand on this strike. They/we/whatever were in the right. Writers should get paid for work we do and money generated from our stories be it on DVD the internet, in animation etc. But I knew from the beginning that the guild would be broken by the producers, because though we had the moral upper hand we never had the power, and that’s because we actually stand for nothing and the producers knew it.
I even knew as I voted against accepting the deal, that a majority of my friends were rushing to vote for the settlement and to quickly go back to work. Remember, this is the same town that wants out of Iraq even though we’re winning. It’s not that we hate winning, it’s that we have a short attention span for any fight be it in Iraq or picketing on Lankershim…we don’t have the stomach to fight any more.
Early on in the strike my more naive writing friends would excitedly announce with spittle frothing out the corners of their mouth, “The Directors will come in after us and strike too! They’re threatening to strike and they’ll be on our team!” Clearly, these writers have never met a director or have never been on a set. There’s just one enemy of every director when he’s shooting, and there’s a reason why in general there’s only one person they heavily police and limit access to the set…it’s the writer. Every time the director tells HIS story he can hear a pair of vodka-lubed eyes rolling from across town and they belong to the writer. The DGA would take a bullet for the WGA the day that the WGA would take a bullet for animators.
There is nothing quite as pathetic as we animators. We actually think we’re on the bottom wrung of this town’s ladder! News to animators: we don’t even have a ladder. We’re sitting at the kiddie table while the adults are having Thanksgiving Dinner in the other room drinking alcohol on the ladder. Why animators ever thought the WGA would hold out to bring animation writing into the guild was always built on fantasy…cartoonish fantasy. The WGA kicked animation out of the deal like the French put Jews on trains bound to Germany…before they were even asked.
The WGA shut this town down and got exactly dick. My royalty checks from internet distribution of my work will amount to pennies. I don’t know who will benefit from the billions of dollars lost on the shut down in Hollywood but the craft services trucks operated by homeless Mexicans will never get their money back. Maybe the writers of The Office should cut them a check when they get paid for their webisodes.
The LOST writers announced that they’ll likely never make back in online distribution what they lost from the strike. Well, that’s great to know that not only will those of us at the kiddie table get zip from this settlement but even the most successful writers in Hollywood will testify that it was all for nothing. Hundreds of lost jobs, writers have less negotiating power than ever and some call this a victory? This is masturbation. Hooray! Let’s strike! Stick. It. To. The. Man.
It’s fun to pretend to have a moral center. Picketers were seen as mini-Jesus Christs, martyrs for a cause and instead of giving money to the homeless, Jay Leno brought us donuts on the picket line and producers bought us Frappacinos to steel our will. Because even producers and actors like to pretend to have a moral center.
If I was a producer I’d laugh at the thought of the WGA ever wanting me to give them anything else. I mean, what are we gonna do strike again?! This is why guilds and unions are bad for making entertainment, telling stories and producing anything but donations to lefty politicians. It’s price-fixing and book-cooking for the Prius crowd and we’re all a little more anemic for the ride.
Thank you, WGA for dropping my family’s insurance just before we had our fourth baby. Thank you, WGA for always being there to push every political agenda I stand against. Thank you WGA for weakening the craft of writing by throwing a wet blanket on competition. Thank your for striking when we really didn’t have the resolve, power, wisdom or integrity to pull it off and any drunken 3rd grader could read the lay of a poker table better than you.
But thanks for the free copies of DVDs nobody would ever watch as they all underperform at the box office compared to what people actually pay to see. There’s a reason why television and movie viewing is shrinking as the tried and true audience finds better entertainment surfing the web and playing video games. Hint…it’s the writing.
P.S. Please don’t keep me from working in this town and please don’t kill my family. If you’re thinking of keeping me from working just know that this is all a writing exercise. I don’t believe any of this. It shows I’m an effective writer. Okay, I wasn’t joking when I called that guy a fucking commie clown.