The Writers Guild of America has announced that it intends to strike beginning at 12:01 am on Monday, November 5. This strike results from a three-month failure of the studios and the union to agree on royalties for works that end up on so-called "new media" (i.e. DVDs and Internet streams). The union wants royalties if their work is used, the studios don't believe such an arrangement is workable. Both sides have broken off discussion and a federal mediator has been dispatched for a last-minute chance to bring both parties to the table. This attempt will likely fail.
Once again, we see on display the rather absurd notion of a white-collar union. These writers have no real dangerous working conditions, they face no risks to life and limb. The worst that could happen is a paper cut. Yet, here they are fighting with the producers vigorously over residual money. It's like an MLM (multi-level marketing) scheme turned ugly. Exactly why is it so necessary for such a group to have a union to fight over a paycheck again?
The good news is such a strike would be great for the entertainment industry and America as a whole. It is true, this will lead to more reality TV shows which don't need writers hitting the airwaves and this writer is certainly aware that such entertainment has drained our national IQ by at least 10 points. However, most of the television being written today is so insipid, so stupid, so artistically worthless that the television studios could do far better by airing static during primetime slots instead of the garbage that is usually polluting our airwaves.
The first shows to be hit would be late night talk television such as the David Letterman show. The only real loss here would be the absence of new episodes of The Daily Show. Likely, Stephen Colbert's campaign to get on the ballot in South Carolina will suffer greatly with this strike.
Next to go would be the soap operas. They are recorded up to a week in advance so likely there will still be a week of those shows until they have to switch to reruns. The recording studios would do far better by broadcasting the Cartoon Network on those channels and it would still reduce the level of silliness in that time slot.
What is unclear is how this affects CNN, FOX News, MSNBC, and other entertainment outlets whose stories are marginally connected to the current events on the ground. Are their story writers going to be striking too?
The sad truth is America has been seeking entertainment that is dumber and dumber as time has gone on. Plot lines need to be spoon-fed to audiences, language needs to be written at the third grade level and we certainly can't tell a story without gratuitous nudity or violence. The Writers Guild of America has a hard time finding ways to write sex scenes into stories in which they have no place. Most action scenes could be replaced with a Halo 3 gaming session and you'd get the general point.
But alas, we can't have a story in this nation without thinking of the children. Whatever will our children do without the designated babysitter producing new content to placate their minds? Surely going outside and playing isn't an option. Reading a book? What's that? Likely such a strike would be a boon to Novartis, the manufacturer of Ritalin.
Whatever will this nation do if all that is available to watch is reruns?
There is a world out there to be enjoyed, many fine books to read, and plenty of friends and family to meet and spend time with. There was life before HD. One can go out and socialize and have a life. And I don't mean logging on to Second Life. Now is a great time to remember to turn off the TV — there was nothing good on anyway.