Wednesday, January 23, 2008

WGA Rant

A friend of mine who is an animation writer posted this on his blog tonight:

From the WGA today-

In order to make absolutely clear our commitment to bringing a speedy conclusion to negotiations, we have decided to withdraw our proposals on... animation.

Not surprising. Annoying, but not surprising. Even with a President who's been involved with animation writing for the past decade, the Guild still couldn't get anything done.

Not surprised. Just annoyed.

The following was my reply:

I just saw your blog "venting" about the withdrawal of animation from the list of demands. This is just so unbelievable. Is it any wonder why no one respects fucking writers in this town?! The Guild has taken it up the ass for decades and when they finally get the balls to come forward, hat in hand, asking for a tiny pittance to buy some additional coal for the winter, we get spit on, booted, and then expected to stay on the job.

Almost every news report that I've seen covering the strike focuses on the few actors who come out to support us because no one gives a shit about the writers. I actually read a comment on some idiotic forum that said (I'm paraphrasing from memory): "Screw the writers, they make too much anyway." Maybe if this asshole was talking about William Goldman or Eric Roth, but we all know that most writers are out of work most of the time.

Of course, it doesn't help that we ask for so little. No wonder the corporations have so much contempt for us. These guys are used to negotiating billion dollar deals with equally shrewd backbiting con men willing to sell lead painted toys to make an extra buck. Then some group of disheveled, bespectacled (yes, I'm stereotyping, leave me alone) schmucks come forward saying, "Hey, we'd like a few extra cents on DVD sales and a tiny pittance if something we write gets played on the internet." No wonder they scoffed. They knew they had us from the beginning. And already, we're buckling, removing a few LONG overdue cards from the table, hoping that maybe two decades hence we can ask again (by then CGI will probably be as prominent as reality programming is today and they'll just bypass the three remaining WGA members entirely).

It's time to realize that we're the architects of this town. After all, we're supposed to be "above the line" and yet I know a lot of people below the line who make more than us. Do they deserve to make their money? Of course! But we deserve to make more! Because they don't work unless we do. Casting agents can't cast, producers can't budget, actors can't act, directors can't direct and cameras cannot roll until a script is ready. Michael Bay can't stage his 800 explosions until some form of framework is written down, even if it does only take a monkey tapping on a laptop.

If anyone can hold this place hostage, it's us. So instead of asking for pennies, let's stand tall and try to negotiate for something of substance. Otherwise, we deserve to be treated as the second class citizens that they think we are.

By the way, in the interest of full disclosure, I'm not even a member of the WGA! But I know how this town works and it's ridiculous how writers are treated here.

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