Michael C. Riedlinger
Fuck you Hollywood, plain as day. Fuck you big production companies and television studios alike and fuck you AMPTP. As many of you should soon be aware if you weren’t already, the Writer’s Guild of America went on strike this week. With the exception of avant-garde and indie cinema, all aspects of television and film will be affected. Hell, The Office
already had to shut down production. Face it folks, we all watch movies and television, so this affects ALL OF US.
So why is Hollywood the Villain here this week and not the Guild? It comes down to the little guy counting for something. Sure, there are a few writers who are paid REALLY well, and they probably deserve it. James Gunn, for example, seems to be able to crank out gold from his laptop as though he were Rumpelstiltskin. Even people like Gunn can go through a dry spell though, and he hasn’t had a big hit in over a year. In the meantime, writers are lucky to collect a total of 4¢ for every DVD sold. Sure, it’s more money than maybe you or I make, but when you consider that each DVD is sold to stores at roughly $17 a piece, it kind of puts it into perspective. The shop you buy it from is making at least $2 a copy, so why shouldn’t the people who put it all down on paper get their cut?
Think about it. How do TV shows and movies get made? Where do they start? Even if it is just an idea, in a producer’s head, there has to be somebody who writes the script. In the case of television shows, multiple scripts with multiple re-writes week after week. Maybe they could just have the actors improv the dialogue and the director and editor could cobble together a story, but have you seen Dancing at the Blue Iguana
? Face it, WE NEED THESE PEOPLE!!! Heroes
had a genius first season because of people like Jeph Loeb, Lost
attracted the talent of award-winning writer Brian K. Vaughn, and even reality shows like American Idol
and Dancing With the Stars
rely on a solid writing team. No matter how good the idea, it amounts to nothing if no one writes it down.
With most of us here at Dorkgasm, we work for free. We have a passion for writing about what we write about, but no one would turn down a cent if suddenly the ad dollars went through the roof and Joel and I could start cutting checks. We all like to get paid, and to earn a dollar for what we love doing is something of an American Dream, one that the folks lucky enough to have joined the Writer’s Guild of America have been living. Expect to hear a lot of bad things about those selfish, awful writers who want an additional 4¢ a DVD coming out of the mainstream media. After all, who owns most of the press? No, you fucking anti-Semite, it’s the movie and TV studios! It is in their best interest to demonize these people, but we should not listen. The fact is that there are plenty of writers out there working in our field that probably should show solidarity, but will sell out the Writer’s Guild in a heartbeat because they like their jobs too damn much. What about the fanboys who won’t get their fix of Chuck
or The Office
for a while, who will they side with? That is what I worry about most. Americans tend to be reactionary; blaming the first person the nightly news tells us is the cause of whatever mediocre problem we may face.
Why do I care? After all, I have been too busy since the launch of Dorkgasm to watch more than an episode or two of this season’s TV shows. Hell, my DVR started cannibalizing itself in order to fit more on the hard drive. I have not been to a theater in that time either, subsisting on Jean-Luc Godard films, ICFLM entries, and the new Bram Stoker’s Dracula
DVD. See, I am a writer too. I haven’t written a script for TV or film, but I write just the same. If anyone came along and told me that what I do wasn’t worth 4¢, I would be justifiably livid. I know what it is to poor my heart, soul and imagination out onto a page and not get paid for it, and I’ll be damned if I don’t stand up and show support for those who have had the talent and good fortune to make it where so many of us would like to ourselves. What is a nation without its storytellers? Ladies and Gentlemen, hang in there, because we are about to find out.