Now there’s a sight you don’t see everyday: film and television writers putting down their keyboards to brandish placards behind picket lines. It might sound crazy but it’s true. The Writers Guild of America (WGA) has been on strike since last week and wordslingers are digging trenches deep enough to mean they’re planning to stay in them for the long, cold winter. The main issue, of course, is money (and why writers are seeing too little of it). Long story short, corporate overlords are raking in the moola generated by DVD sales and internet broadcasts of movies and TV shows, and American writers are clamoring for a decent share of the profit.
Mainstream writers turning revolutionaries. What the fuck indeed. The funny thing about all this is that while writers cannot hold hostage any of the basic human needs such as water and electricity, the strike’s tremors are being felt all over America as TV junkies start panicking.
Screenwriters have a long and heartbreaking history of getting ignored and treated like lowly drones by the guys sitting at the smug side of the desk. Even directors would like you to think that they’re the true brains behind a movie or a television episode-- never mind that the writer is the only person in the whole creative team that makes something out of absolutely nothing but brain jizz. I think this is the reason why everyone hates writers: from the producers who can’t understand why they have to pay real money to people whose job description is to make things up, to the directors who are too in love with themselves to admit that they’re not the ones who really make the stuff up.
The WGA strike, though, is forcing people to smell the bullshit. The immediate crunch in American television says a lot about the importance of writers. First to go were the late night talk shows of Jay Leno and David Letterman, which have been airing reruns since the strike began November 5. Daytime soaps are running out of scripts to air and top rating primetime shows such as 24 and Desperate Housewives have been put on the deep freeze. If this goes on, movie studios will eventually run out of stockpiled scripts and human civilization as we know it will cease to exist.
Listen. The thing is that local television writers-- blokes who have more to complain about than our American brethren-- are starting to whisper dangerous things to each other. Nothing too serious yet, though. Nothing that could be called organized. But it’s there. It’s the seed of dissent. Someone somewhere is rattling the chain. I’m not going to put into words what that might spell for the two major Philippine TV networks.
Anyway, here's an entertaining video to help you understand exactly why the WGA is mighty pissed: