Friday, February 20, 2009

Dirty Windows

The WGA strike is over, and most things have returned to normal - or as close to normal as one ever gets in Hollywood. I attended the final general meeting at which the settlement was explained by the leadership, and I must admit that I was underwhelmed. As far as I understand it, the only point of any significance which we achieved that the DGA did not involved what is called 'windows.' This point was, in fact, so technical in nature and so obscure that it took the executive director nearly ten minutes to explain it. For those who may be interested, it involves the number of days during which a film or TV program may be shown on the Internet without the writers having to be paid for it. Now, in fact, the directors got an agreement on windows, but what our leaders were crowing about was the fact that in the third year of our contract, there will be no windows at all.

And that, as far as I could see, was the sum total of it. I did think that we had done a reasonably good job of gaining grace in the post-strike settlement terms of the contract, which enable to some WGA members to recover their jobs or recoup some lost income imposed by the strike itself. But as for important issues, ground-breaking accomplishments, precedent-setting achievements... well, as I say, there seem to have been none of any note that the directors had not already secured.

Nonetheless, in true rank-and-file form, the members cheered each proclaimed victory - 'Distributors' gross!' (the directors already got it), 'Electronic media breakthrough!' (the directors already got it), 'Partial Internet jurisdiction!' (the directors already got it) - and they strode to the microphones to tell the leaders how proud they all were of them. But the fact remains that we lost 100 days of income, which most of us will never recoup, we were forced, most of us, to live off our savings, and, some of us, to exhaust them. And yet I say again, we appear to have achieved virtually nothing in seven months of negotiations and nearly four months of strike that the DGA did not achieve in six days of talks.

As I suggested earlier, someone has much to answer for. And yet the questions will never be asked, so rampant is the class warfare hysteria of the Guild, and so fervent is the belief that a strike, any strike, is better than an accomplishment, any accomplishment, real or imagined, gained without it.