More blaming the victim from The Movie Blog

by Paul William Tenny

There may not be much posted here today (the 6th) because of weather conditions that will effectively knock out my internet connection for the better part of the day and night, so I'm posting a few things early and mostly whatever I can come up with in the next hour or so. Real quickly, with everyone holding their breath waiting to see how the talks between the WGA and AMPTP are going to end, John Campea went and stuck his foot in his mouth for what feels like the 50th time.

I've said for a while now that if the Producers are able to come to a quick agreement with the Director's Guild, and if the Writer's came to their senses and took Reality TV jurisdiction off the table, that a deal would be struck quickly.

It's sad that Campea has been educated about the benefits of organizing reality writers -- repeatedly -- and yet he still toes the producers line when it comes to attacking the WGAs strategy and intentions. There's no arguing that the pre-strike attempts to organize reality were badly planned and publicly embarrassing, but the issue isn't one of strike tactics or power grabbing.

Ask yourself why is it the AMPTP member companies wanted the reality jurisdiction demand dropped so badly. Since it was on their list of ultimatums that lead to them walking away from negotiations (for the second time) it's hard to argue that it wasn't something they took seriously. That they were so hell bound against agreeing to it alone makes it a valuable chip to be bargained away at some point, something I'm sure David Young and Patric Verrone knew from the outset, but that really wasn't the point. Organizing reality was about taking people who were actually writing for these shows and getting them under the Minimum Basic Agreement (MBA) so they could receive residuals, health coverage, overtime, and minimum (negotiated) wages -- currently they get none of those things.

Not only was it good to try this because these people are writers who desperately need what the guild can provide, it was obvious right away that the networks were going to use reality to blunt the blow of the strike, and they did. A great deal of new reality programming was ordered and put on the air, with a ton of it still yet to even lift off. By seizing reality jurisdiction, the WGA can do two great things at once: help the people who are writing without being allowed to join the writers union and gaining all the protections it provides, and take reality as a means of defense away from the networks during a strike.

Not only was it right morally, it was a very important union strategy, one that I promise you the WGA will not give up on even after the strike ends.

Beyond all of that, and contrary to the picture painted by Campea and the AMPTP -- the WGA was willing to bargain reality away, along with the DVD residual hikes, in order to settle on more important issues -- and they were ready to do it right from the very beginning. What put a quick stop to that was the AMPTP promising it would do something if the WGA took the DVD residual hike off the table, which the WGA did, only to see the AMPTP not just go back on its word, but to see them walk away from talks altogether as a reward for bargaining in good faith.

This issue, as important as it was then, and as important as it is now, was going to come off the table at some point -- everybody knew that -- but it never got the chance because the AMPTP annihilated what little credibility it had with the DVD residual stunt.

After that, there simply was no reason for the WGA to take reality off the table until the AMPTP made some sort of effort toward reestablishing its credibility at the table. Rather than doing that, they made it even worse by walking away for a second time.

I'm sick and tired of the spin, and the pro-retard movement. Regardless of what your affiliations are, where your loyalties lie, or of any other concerns, there is simply no way you can't condemn virtually everything the AMPTP has done thus far.

Reality is a critical issue to writers and will remain so well into the future. If the WGA has to strike again in three years, or ten years, or even fifty years from now, reality will be there to blunt the effects, while thousands of working writers will be getting screwed at every available opportunity. To give it up in the first place during these contract negotiations was a hard pill to swallow, but was one that the WGA leadership knew was going to have to happen in order to make a fair deal. The AMPTP had no intention of bargaining until the last couple of weeks, and they are extremely lucky the WGA was allowed them back into the room at all.

So lets revisit this again, just to be clear.

and if the Writer's came to their senses and took Reality TV jurisdiction off the table, that a deal would be struck quickly.

This is what the AMPTP said about DVD residuals, and when the writers believed them and took DVDs off the table, the AMPTP walked out.

The only people who have come to their senses in the last few days have been the CEOs who have no personal, and apparently in this country, no professional stake either in these negotiations or the performance of their own company. The way things are today, the worse they do, the better they get paid.

Writes have been patient, professional, and sensible for three months, waiting for the child-like AMPTP -- holding their breath until every demand is obeyed -- to come back to the table and remember that the definition of negotiation is not "do whatever I tell you to do". Perhaps with the DGA, but not with an actual union.

Blaming writers for this mess is nothing short of blaming the way a woman who has been raped for dressing a certain way. I mean seriously, how dare writers demand fair revenue sharing? How dare they try to bring writers working sweatshop hours for below average pay into a union that exists entirely for what they do for a living. How dare they try to deprive the billion dollar corporate conglomerates the use of peoples lives and careers as weapons to break a union.

How dare she dress like that? What was she thinking?

She so had it coming.
in Internet, Labor


Related posts:

Leave a comment

View more stories by visiting the archives.

Media Pundit categories