Today I had lunch at the world's most luxurious food court, the one in Century City at the Westfield. The place was lousy with Hollywood types, as usual. Today there was an additional heaping helping of writers. You could tell because they had on one of four sorts of T shirts that let you know.
"My movie was on You Tube and all I got was this lousy T-shirt".
With humor like that, one wants to sympathize with the studios and producers. In fact, all during lunch as i was eyeballing the crowd, I kept coming up with better slogans. For example, a picket sign with no writing. Or at least one with the small print "This picket sign left intentionally blank". I couldn't help but notice that writers were enjoying lunches at the most luxurious food court in the world. I sat near the wireless powered speakers that were carrying the tunes strummed by the strolling acoustic troubadour. I asked, and he obliged my request for "Hotel California".
As the troubadour played, I wondered about the mentality which would ask for a cut of his tip cup. After all, Hotel California is surely a copywritten song. And I'm sure that somewhere there are entertainment intellectual property lawyers out there who know exactly which clause in the law which allows street musicians to ply their trade of playing and singing popular songs without being forced to fork over a percentage.
Gerard reminds us that most writers, especially in the news business, write to be read, not studied. Hmm. what about bloggers? I know in fact that most of the time, well anytime I write under the category of Critical Theory, I write to be studied. Since I am a syndicated blogger and I do NPR I catch a little money on the side. Something like 170 bucks a month, in a good month. I hardly think that qualifies me as a professional. But I think I'm a good writer nonetheless, and I count myself fortunate that I don't have to work for the kind of asshats that would make me feel as though I needed the benefit of collective bargaining. I don't know, there's something about the very idea of a writer's union that sounds oxymoronic - it is bound to the assembly line of entertainment product. That's all we've heard in the news this week, how this disruption of labor is effecting the economy of Los Angeles. Nothing could be more un-writerlike from my perspective. I suppose that's because of my intellectual bias. I think of a writer first and foremost as an intellectual, a facilitator of an environment for the critical exchange of ideas central to ... yeah well that's my conceit.
In reality, the writer's strike is going to put more people out on the street at night. I mean with nothing good to watch on the tube, people are going to have to face their misery without relief. Good news for bars, taxis and eventually divorce lawyers. Just imagine the ripple effects. That's what they want you to do.
In the end, however, I fall into the same camp as Bill Handel, who explained the deal this morning on the radio. Writers get, from the sale of every DVD, approximately 4 cents. The studios get about 3 bucks. The writers want 8 cents, which is still less than what the guys get who make the box. I think that's reasonable, under the circumstances.