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Yet, people who make a living writing movies, TV shows and streaming programs are on strike! Most people find it hard to relate to complaints about working on projects with multimillion-dollar budgets, A-list stars and famous studio moguls. So, what’s wrong with this picture?
It’s a faded picture taken in the long-ago golden age of Hollywood when creative writing was prized by the industry’s barons and writers got respect and decent paychecks. In today’s reality, projects are rich, but writers are poor, for Hollywood has shifted to the same model of plutocratic inequality that has swamped banking, tech and other monopolistic sectors.
Wall Street now rules. While we consumers still pay top dollar for tickets and monthly fees, practically all of the money flows upstream to financiers and corporate poohbahs. This has sunk the real creators (writers, directors, actors, tech crews and craftspeople) into the quicksand of low-wage, temporary jobs. Legacy production giants like Disney, Paramount and Universal (along with uberrich new players like Amazon, Apple, Comcast and Netflix) kowtow to Wall Street, stiffing the people who actually have talent, squeezing corporate pThis is the blue-collar reality of Hollywood you don’t hear about, and battling the same old rank greed of elite bosses is what this strike is about. Instead of making art, today’s industry is focused on slashing labor costs to artificially jack up corporate stock prices.
The pay increase sought by the 10,000 members of the Writers Guild of America is easily affordable by studio powers. Indeed, just one big boss, David Zaslav at Warner Brothers, gets $250 million a year — enough to pay every WGA writer the minimal annual income asked for in this strike.
To help stop the financialization and gigification of yet another workplace, go to wga.org.
What pan would you take to a public protest?
Do mass protests matter anymore? Even when large numbers turn out with a high level of outrage directed at abusive corporate or governmental elites, the Powers That Be usually just hunker down and wait for the fury to pass.
But the one form of protest that really gets to even the most aloof elite is cultural caricature. In recent decades, the creative deployment of giant puppets, satirical songs, pop-up parodies and other forms of social mockery has pierced the ego shields of haughty corporate chieftains and puffed-up politicos. They ignore angry speeches, but public ridicule stings them personally, energizing the larger community.
Consider how common household utensils can rally the people’s discontent, rattle the establishment and deliver a message of revolutionary protest. In recent years, mass rebellions, armed with nothing but kitchenware, have noisily made their points in such disparate places as Chile and Iceland.
And today, the people of France are bedeviling their country’s aristocratic wannabe, President Emmanuel Macron, with a ceaseless, mass clanging of skillets, saucepans, spoons and other plebeian cookware brought from their French kitchens into the streets of every region. They are protesting the president’s imperious decision to undercut their pensions, as well as his tone-deaf refusal even to hear their complaints. So, their “voice” has become the incessant banging of pots. Now, Macron can’t go anywhere without being greeted — and often drowned out — by the cacophony of “cassarolades” (the saucepan movement).
The protest is driving Macron crazy, which seems to be a very short ride for him. Clearly irritated by the commoners’ cleverness, his government is now using antiterrorism laws to ban “the use of portable sound devices” in protests.
Of course, the crazier he gets about pots and pans, the more effective their “voice” becomes — and the louder people laugh at their “leader.”