Thursday, February 14, 2008

Gutter Ball

I've never understood why it should be incumbent on a person who points out a problem to also have a solution to the problem.

"That's broken."

"Can you fix it?"

"Um, no."

"Then shut up."

That philosophy strikes me as some kind of fallacious dodge but I lack or have forgotten the terms from logic class to say it with more specificity. How about:

"Dude, your house is on fire."

"Can you put it out?"

"Um, no."

"Crap. Can I borrow your phone to call the fire department?"

Sometimes, too, people can ask questions and not only not have an answer, but not expect one. The Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike was finally settled, which is a good thing, but I'm not sure what side of the conflict I sympathized with most. On the one hand, WGA members were well compensated before the strike in terms of salary and insurance benefits. The fact that the studios could take advantage of new technologies such as DVDs and the internet to make millions more dollars does not take that away. So while the writers made a pittance from, say, DVD sales based on their work, they had already been well paid to do the work in first place.

From the studios' perspective, they'd paid to have the writers do their work and they felt they owned it to do with as they would and to make as much money as they possibly could. The work has become a commodity at that point. Unless they have deals with directors or actors or copyright holders to pay points on whatever profits may form.

Do I think the studios would treat everyone fairly and equitably, distributing the wealth as any decent, sympathetic human should be expected to do? That would be a joke. Without the union the writers would be hosed every possible way the studios could think of.

Do I think the writers were being screwed because the studios were raking in dough that wasn't accounted for in their earlier contract? Kinda sorta not really, although there are claims that an understanding had been in place to address the new technologies but had gone ignored by the studios.

In the end the good news is the strike is over and everyone can get back to work and everyone can make money. The union did what it was supposed to and got the best deal it could for its members and did so without damaging the studios' ability to make a profit and stay alive (as opposed to the auto workers). The writers weren't being greedy and the studios weren't acting particularly like the Evil Empire.

I think what I really think about all this is that only good can come from more money flowing out of the hands of the studios. As long as market forces keep the consumer prices down, the field can only grow. I think. I may be completely full of crap, expressing an uninformed opinion, but when this stuff is plastered all over the media, this is what we do: comment, spout off, create internet content.


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