Monday, December 03, 2007

Depends on what the definition of "is" is...

The strike isn’t looking to end any time soon.

After Thursday, the WGA asked for a lift on the news blackout, so they could talk to their members about the negotiations. But before chatting with their members, they released a statement blasting the studios.

Just like that, we’re back to mud slinging.

I suppose reading my blog, one would either assume I am anti-WGA, or wonder where I fall in this issue. So let me restate for the record:

I think the Guild is right that the writers deserve a bigger piece of the pie than they are currently getting – especially in the area of new media.

So, ironically, I get even more hot and bothered when they aren’t upright in how they are trying to get that piece of the pie.

Such as this weekend, as they are outright lying in reporting that the studio is asking for rollbacks.

I’m not saying that the Studios is saying that they are lying – as far as I’ve heard, the Studios haven’t responded at all to the WGA attacks.

No, it is the WGA that says that the WGA is lying.

The dictionary defines a rollback as a reduction to a prior level. In terms of contracts, this would be if the workers are currently being paid ten dollars an hour, and the bosses say they want to move it to nine dollars an hour.

Prior to the strike, the WGA claimed (correctly so) that the writers were being paid zero dollars for many of the uses of their material on the internet.

The writers now are saying that the Studios have offered to pay a mere couple of thousand dollars for something written for the web.

From zero to a couple of thousand.

And the WGA is claiming this is a rollback – in other words, in the math of the WGA, 2,000 is literally less than zero.

Here’s an old joke: A college student pushes his overflowing cart into the “Ten items or less” checkout aisle in Boston. The checker glances at the cart, then at the “Ten items or less” sign, and quips, “So, are you from MIT and can’t read, or from Harvard and can’t add?”

I’m thinking that the representatives of the Writer’s guild know what the term “rollback” means, being wordsmiths and all.

Here’s the deal folks: if the dollar amount is accurate (and who knows with the level of honesty being shown here), then it is a small amount. A half hour of prime time television nets over $20,000 for a writer. For prime time television.

And if the Studios were suggesting a cut in that amount, it would indeed be a rollback. But this isn’t a rollback, just a paltry offer – from zero to two thousand.

So why doesn’t the WGA come out and say, “Hey, the studios made an offer, but the amount is a joke?” Why lie instead and call it a rollback?

It’s not as if writers are too stupid to know that a pittance is only a pittance; it’s not as if the writers will fold if they aren’t lied to.

Then why?

Because the point isn’t to report a lack of progress, the point is to make the strikers angry. And if the Studios are perceived as trying to take back money already given, then the strikers will get Hulk angry.

Angry strikers make good, long strikers.

A goal apparently worthy of the lie.

Just my thoughts,



Linds said...

I'm confused - I thought the WGA was calling it a rollback based on a calculation of the whole offer, including downgraded residuals from older media as well as the ability of studios to call anything they like promotional and then not pay anything for them.

But I haven't had the chance to make sense of all the pr jib jabs - I'm trying to write a paper about Nazi film. :)

Gaffney said...

Not according to the letter sent from the WGA board to its members. The rollbacks are based on the "if and only if" that all new media has been paying at the highest price of any existing forms (primetime network television). Which, of course, they haven't. Okay, I'm getting tired of defending the studios when they have made a ridiculously small offer.

Could someone please make one of the sides be ethical, so I could be on the side of the angels and get my sanity back!

jmt, S

janet said...

I think you're a bit quick to call the WGA liars, Sean. Take a look at this for further clarification. In addition, if anyone wants to delve into the comments on said post, the 11/30 post at 9:12 p.m. also gives some good hard numerical analysis.

Anonymous said...

I guess it depends on the literal or figurative meaning of rollback in this case.

Literally rolling back a previous pay rate...but if the writers were getting zero for internet before, then any offer now is not a rollback.

Figuratively rolling back of deserved or comparable pay rate...IF showing a television program on the internet paid even close to what showing a television program on the television, then this paltry offer would indeed be a rollback.

Totally confusing and unfair and frustrating and turnedaround backwards on all sides.