Thursday, November 8, 2007

“We just got to stand our ground.”

WGA Member Howard Gould tells over 3,000 writers why they must strike.

Amen. Amen. And amen.

I know we're hitting the WGA strike hard.

It matters.

Here's why it matters to me.

We live in a world of stories.

The world we are moving in to, this world of always connected always available media, where everyone is as close as saying their name and they simply appear -- *poof* -- in your listening or seeing, Just.Like.That...

That world is roughly ten years from right now.

It is a world I call the WORLD OF SHIFTING IDENTITIES.

In the World of Shifting Identities, we dance between who we know ourselves to be with our family and friends, whom people know us to be at work, and who the world knows us to be through the then equivalent of Facebook, MySpace, and Google -- which young people will have been immersed in since they were old enough to watch television, listen to music, and to go on... say, "go on line" is inaccurate. Because the entire world will be "on line" all the time always, ten years from now.

Our public identities will always be in a dance with whom we are being with our friends, and with the trails we leave behind us like fourth-of-July sparklers as we move through the net. We will shift who we are effortlessly, just as easily as today our children bounce between six, eight, fifteen texting boxes at once. Dancing between friends, our children will dance between aspects of who they are and we will marvel at how they seem to be (perhaps even are) different people and they will say, "Oh Grandma, Grandpa, it's EASY... let me show you how to SHIFT your IDENTITY" and we'll beg off, most of us, and go back to blogging, all positively quaint just ten years from now with its slow RSS feed and GUI interface.

Who will design the media of the future? Who will tell the tales in which our children, and their children invent themselves newly in identity after identity?

Storytellers. Writers. Those who tell tales around the campfire and wait for applause, a smile, or a shiver of fear and delight.

The corporations think we can be replaced. They would that we work for free or for greatly reduced wages. Bring scabs in and break the strike.

No, no, ten thousand times no.

The stories which determine my children's future shall be told by the best possible women and men, working for more than a mere pittance. I want the best and the smartest people to come to Hollywood, to become creators of the tale which our species tells itself and in telling itself, creates itself anew.

What fools the Studios are to low-ball the original source of all their creative work. Would you want a pissed off doctor doing surgery on your brain? An angry engineer rebuilding the space shuttle you're about to fly in?

The dreams and hopes of the most powerful form of entertainment yet created bu human-kind comes out of writers, writing for film and television. Film and TV move more people, as no other medium yet created does. I want -- and any sane person, including the executives -- should want, the very best people possible to invent the core fables from which the future of all of us will be told.

Trying to nickel and dime, in this case, trying to literally four-cent these talented people into the poor-house, so that executives can buy another corporate jet, strikes me as the worst kind of stupidity possible. If they're successful, then the Studios have massively pissed off writers, who then the executives will need to bet $100 million dollar investments in actors, directors, and advertising on these same writers' creativity -- and that's $100 million for a middle-of-the-range movie.

Right... Bet on a massively pissed-of-writer who now no longer gives a flying-fuck if the movie succeeds, because all he's ever going to get is his up-front payment; you personally negotiated him out of his residuals. Smart move there, Mr. Executive (and yes, it is Mister.)

Do you really think Mr. Executive, in all your arrogance, you know STORY better than the writers? That they can't just fuck you over HARD? Give you screenplay after screenplay reading delicious, shooting wonderful, and fix it so the audience will still walk out in fucking droves?

I guarantee you, with nothing on the line for residuals, why would any writer give a damn about how your movie performs after they get their up-front payment? This is the world you are asking the writers to accept. This is the world they are on strike to save you from. The world of your stupidity, you fool you fool.

The world is changing.

Writers are the people who get to say what the changing world means, because as the world happens, writers assess what has happened, assert what is happening and declare what will happen in the future. In doing so, writers make up the stories which tell us who we are.

Writers who write for film and television get to have people all of us trust -- actors in movies and old friends on those shows we invite into our lives every week on our favorite television-- tell us how the world is changing. That's an enormous responsibility and I insist the very best people in the world perform it.

People such as my friend and co-blogger, Lower Manhattanite, a television writer.

And if all goes well... I have a screenplay written, a second being written, and am preparing to shoot a documentary ... hopefully I'll soon be in the Writers guild as well.

It is time to stand our ground.

I support the writers.