Jesus, Mary and Joseph. On Monday there was this terrific news: the major studios (collectively called the AMPTP) and the WGA (my union) were getting back together to negotiate. This was after weeks of nothing but picketing, bad blood and most of all, silence. Incredibly (almost unbelievably, if you ask me), the mood of the public tipped slightly in the writer’s favor – I don’t know if it was the viral videos, the lingering mistrust of giant companies… or maybe average Americans heard both arguments and concluded that writers were indeed getting screwed.
Hell, I was stopped for having an expired license plate in Massachusetts last night, and could have been arrested because of an unpaid speeding ticket from 1991. Instead, the cop asked what I did for a living, knew I was on strike, and being a union guy, he let me go with just a ticket. More and more, I’ve talked to people who not only have an affinity for the writers, but consider the whole thing a no-brainer.
Meanwhile, the rumors coming out of Monday’s meeting were beyond encouraging; gossipers were using words like “done deal”, saying an agreement had been struck by the major talent agencies as mediators, and we were all getting together just to iron out the specifics.
Ah, but then we all forgot, the Beast is a sociopath. The AMPTP came up with a proposal so bereft of value that it staggers the imagination:
– $250 for unlimited internet usage of TV shows for a year. Yes, two hundred and fifty dollars.
– NOTHING for unlimited internet usage of movies.
– they can still call an entire movie a “promotion” of that movie and give us nothing
– no internet jurisdiction of our material
And, well, you can read all the details and comments here. The studios’ move was meant to be a disheartening “brick in the small of the back again” as Morrissey sang, to demoralize the WGA so badly that we’d cave, and come limping back to work. I can’t speak for anyone else, but this kabuki theater dumb-show has only made me angrier.
Look at the WGA’s response and crunch the numbers. The WGA – as an entire body of thousands of writers – is asking for less than the sum total of the yearly bonuses and severance packages of the major studios’ CEOs. That’s right. Individual people, added together, are making more being fired than the entire WGA membership is asking for in residuals.
When did this country get so far out of whack? When did this become acceptable to you, to me, to everyone? When did we stop caring about anything being remotely fair? I’ve been loath to admit this, but the effortless way we can ignore these disparities in abject wealth says more about us than them. We’re so disconnected from financial equality, care so little about what the Big Guys do, that I’m beginning to think the real sociopath might be us.