Saturday, February 9, 2008

Waiting until something's on

Since I've moved, I haven't jumped back into the TV habit just yet. I've decided to wait until the writer's strike is over before I get cable TV again. The TV is still hooked up to the DVD player, so I'm not a complete Luddite hermit, but without writers, we are stuck with such crap that it just doesn't seem worth the effort.

I'd advocate a boycott in solidarity with the writers, but because the business model of TV is such a jumble, I don't know what the end user can do to change business practices. Back in the day when the United Farm Workers could ask people to not buy table grapes or lettuce, that could put pressure on management. Nice and simple. If we all turned in our cable boxes for the duration, would the cable companies be able to talk the TV production companies into a more reasonable position? There is some integration between the two industries, but would it be enough? I honestly have no idea.

Also, since the industry made a deal lickety split with The Director's Guild over the same issue of the sharing of profits from internet delivery, it's not like the production companies are actually in a position where they can plead poverty or some argument that internet delivery is a fundamentally different business model from delivery through cable and revenue sharing is impossible. Clearly, this is a power play. The writers don't have the power, so the production companies are screwing with them.

I don't know what will bring the end to the writer's strike. I vowed not to watch shows I like, including The Daily Show and The Colbert Report until the strike was over even when I still had cable. As it stands now, my TV is the reason I pay for a Netflix subscription, and nothing more.

What do you think should be done? Is there something you can do, or something we all can do?

Now playing: Joe Jackson - T.V. Age
via FoxyTunes


FranIAm said...

Oh Matty, great post.

You are so right, it is not so easy to put pressure on anyone.

A friend of mine is a writer in LA. Not the big flashy type everyone imagines, but the more garden variety hard working person, who- if they are lucky, get to work on one hit show in their career.

That is why this strike matters so damn much. People's lives...

I don't really know what to do. I have not watched Colbert or The Daily Show either, on principle. It doesn't matter at all if you or I don't watch... and as you know, I actually know a bit about the counting of eyeballs.

It appears talks are underway, but that is because with no writers, the Oscars will be hard to put on.

The whole thing is pathetic and as usual, I have used many words to say not much. I don't know what we can do.

jolie said...

not watching only changes things at the margins statistically speaking. sooooo, franiam, you're right, there's not much you or I or even matty boy can do. except wait. which is frequently the solution.

I'm interested in how the landscape will have changed due to the hiatus. will the strike prove to be a watershed changing things noticeably? or will it be just another workstoppage that, months from now, we'll have forgotten because we can't see any change? fundamentally, though, I sure do hope the writers get what they need; I don't really know anything about the industry, but it seems to me that the balance is tilted way too much toward the studios.

I tuned in to colbert & stewart to see how they'd do without their writers. I know both of them are writers themselves of course and I have to say, in some ways they've been funnier, more topical, and all-round terrific than I remember them being. colbert, especially, has just shimmered, the man is genius.

Karla said...

On Defamer, a number of guild writers post. One called Peggy Archer put forward the idea that the AMPMTPTMPMTMTT (I hope that's right) chose to let the strike go on as long as it did in order to hit the 60-day force majeure clause timelines - so that they could break contracts for shows that they had entered into production deals with but decided against.

She said it could be completely wrong, but it's the whispering that was going around on the set of her show before the strike was convened.

I know, in this day and age, that the idea of a conglomerate allowing little people to suffer while they make backroom deals is shocking, but there you go.

Matty Boy said...

It looks like there's a tentative settlement, and a lot of big name writers are behind it, so it will likely ratified. If I were Bill O'Reilly, I'd take credit for it, since it happened the day I wrote my blog post, but FranIAm is probably closer to the point by mentioning the Oscars. You have to expect that the Oscar writers have been working on their own for a while, assuming the strike would be over, but they will officially have only two weeks to write the thing. It will be interesting to see if there is any noticeable difference in the corny jokes.

FranIAm said...

I have a friend who is a writer in LA and she said people have all been working on their own, privately, which is to be expected. So your point about the two week window is exactly right.