Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Word on the Strike

I attended a Writer’s Guild Meeting last night, where members heard from the negotiating committee and Guild leadership. One of the tactics of the AMPTP has been to portray our leadership as crazy, power-drunk, and out of touch with the demands of the business and the interests of our membership.

Like many writers, I am not a joiner nor a big fan of groups. I wasn’t a boy scout; I’ve never been a member of a church or temple; I didn’t join a frat in college. Clubs and allegiances make me slightly nervous, and I’ve never had a taste for chants and slogans. Usually when large groups unite behind a cause, I can’t stomach the dogma that inevitably emerges. So you can imagine that the “brotherhood” aspect of the strike is not one that I cotton to naturally, nor am I inclined to believe that leadership—of any kind—will adequately represent my interests or viewpoint.

Add to that the fact that it is always more fun and seemingly more sophisticated to be cynical. It’s always easier to cast a jaundiced eye, to be the one who sees through the bullshit, who knows a better angle, who has the caustic aside that breaks up the lockstep of the zoned-out masses.

Like everyone else who works in Hollywood, I have followed this strike closely because of what’s at stake. And in last night’s meeting, as in the previous guild meeting, I can report that there was not a single strategy, proposal, or explanation presented to me by WGA leadership and the negotiating committee that I disagreed with.

Not one.

Our leadership, our negotiating committee, our positions are eminently reasonable, considered, and, yes, sane. These are complicated issues, and most people don’t have a clear grasp of them. What is at stake is New Media. The internet. How films and TV shows will be distributed. What is at stake is the future and how—indeed if—writers will be compensated in it.

Coming to Hollywood as an author, I was amazed at the benefits and infrastructure provided to me as a screenwriter. Health care. Pension. Residuals. Minimums. There’s not a day I’ve worked in L.A. that I’m not grateful for these benefits—benefits that provide for my family and that allow me to continue to do my job. These benefits were won by the sweat and courage of men and women who had much more to lose and who took greater risks than those before us now. These benefits were won by the sacrifices others made for future generations, for me.

This membership, this year, cannot dissipate those gains. We cannot cave in to an unfair deal that writers decades from now will be saddled with. This is a watershed contract. Future writers will look back to this year, to this contract, to us, every day as they live with what our resolve and respect for writing yielded. They can look back on us with the same gratitude we look back on those who came before us. Or they can look back with disappointment.

We’d be well served to remember that this contract isn’t just for us.

In full support,

Gregg Hurwitz

3 comments:

RJ Mangahas said...

I definitely agree with the Writers Guild and what they are are fighting for in this strike. However, some of my sympathy also lies with a third party. The production people. While the dispute is between the studios/networks and writers, the people who help with the behind the scene aspects of productions, though not directly involved in the dispute, are also being affected by this strike.

So, I do hope that negotiations take on a positive turn, mostly for the writers, but also for the other people who rely on the on going production of shows to support themselves and their families.

Philip said...

I say exactly what you say, Gregg, only parsed into Miller-sized phonemes.

Must.
Get.
Residuals.

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