Richard Rushfield on the potential—and potentially necessary—catastrophe looming over Hollywood.
Let me start by saying I strongly support the writers and hope some form of high quality entertainment survives that supports a middle class living for those who produce said entertainment even if quantity is reduced.
Having said that, this end of civilization talk is really turning me off. I hope it was facetious but if not I think it was very overwrought. Video entertainment is less than 200 years old. Humans can clearly figure out how to interact with each other without it. The means of cultural diffusion will be different which means the outcome will be at least slightly different but we and our culture will all survive even if movies, TV, and/or streaming folds.
On a personal level I am conflicted, the last strike brought us both Dr. Horrible and an increase in Reality TV. While I am also in the Sonny camp of, shall we say union skeptical, I don't see how the writers have any option here.
Sonny - another FABULOUS episode. This + the Shawn Ryan interview are my two favorites. Thank you for how fascinating and informative these have been. Just subscribed to The Ankler as well.
SC, thanks for the specific grounding - helps us outside of the writers’ life understand issues better. That said, I think those of us inclined to set this aside as ‘not our problem’ need to take Richard’s comment about the central role of TV, in its many forms, in our cultural life: it IS where many/most people develop their whole sense of what story, and conversation, and even language is. We are getting closer and closer to living as if life is nothing but a barely linked series of flash cuts - and then we wonder why we can’t fix or even change anything. Eighty years of disconnected 90-second/240 character “event tiles” scattered on the floor doesn’t seem like much of a life and surely doesn’t make for satisfying relationships. And we wonder why young women are depressed and (in today’s Guardian) why young men seem to have little interest in romantic relationships? TV has always shown us imperfect things and perhaps invited us to aspire to impossible or wrong things; but what would our lives be like if we never even learned to aspire?! I hadn’t really thought about it before, but I think we are all invested in having the writing life be a sustainable profession in the age of streaming. Thanks for making it a little clearer why that is.
I'm a WGA writer - mid 40s, work full-time plus, streaming has me working more for less (mini rooms, lack of span protection -- I basically make a 1/3rd of what I made for same work 3 years ago). It's nearly impossible to support a family in LA now (I have kids, a mortgage, etc) - my savings has disappeared, I have credit card debt bc groceries go on Visa when cash is low. I'm in demand, but I think of quitting every day. Writing is difficult work - it takes smart, thoughtful, uniquely talented people... But if it doesn't even pay? And you are trying to create in a vacuum of constant existential panic (I mean, beyond the normal writer dread ; ) -- what is the point? It's just not sustainable.
For me, the *only* reason I have not gone bankrupt so far - is I write features (movies) as well as TV - the few feature jobs I've grabbed in the last year (which pay more in development) have saved me - but just barely. Most TV writers don't even have that.
I think my union makes a lot of well intentioned missteps (TBH firing our agents over packaging did not actually help writers make more money) - and we have many loons who will strike over anything - I personally hate strikes. But I'm 99% sure we will strike this time. We kind have to...
But It will be a mess. Shitshow on top of a shitshow. Buckle up.
(And thanks for covering it - it's difficult for average person to understand - but shit is BAD).