Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Quick Response to Jeremy Lott (Updated)

I was going to leave this as a comment on Jeremy Lott’s site, but, sadly, comments aren’t allowed. Lott, author of the wonderful In Defense of Hypocrisy (a book with a cover I wish I had designed (sorry, graphics geek moment)), linked to my glib prayer of thanks for the writers strike.

Am I the only right-of-center type who isn’t wild about the Hollywood writers’ strike? I don’t even watch much television –three, four hours a week tops — and I have enough unwatched videos and DVDs stockpiled to wait out any longer work stoppage.

It’s not quite fair to say that I’m wild about the strike; I’m a little closer to indifferent. I lived without cable for a few years and got myself hooked up only because I wanted to be able to watch the Avalanche playoffs games. Most of my TV watching is sports related, I catch stuff on the History Channel regularly, and I try to catch House every week. Of course, my fascination with American Idol is widely mocked, so I don’t dare leave that out, too.

My feelings about the strike, though, have little to do with my watching habits.

I have little sympathy for the producers because, frankly, everything that I’ve ever heard about their accounting practices leads me to believe that they do their best to screw writers hard. The writers have only themselves to blame for some of the problems, though: they made a bad deal last time around and completely underestimated the kind of revenue that would be created from DVD sales. Oops.

Here’s the thing, though, I’m not sure how much sympathy I have for the writers, either. If this is right:

Starting TV writers earn about $70,000 per season for full-time work on a show. Veteran writers who move up to a story-editor position make at least a low six-figure salary, with a “written by” credit on an hourlong script paying an additional $30,000 plus residuals.

We’re not exactly talking about a poorly paid profession, are we? And for writers who aren’t staff writers or who write on spec, well that’s the risk, isn’t it? When I write a handful of articles for paid publication in any given year, I don’t complain that I’m not paid a living wage. I just make sure that I leave the focus on the job that actually pays my bills and realize that what I do on the side is, essentially, a hobby.

I wouldn’t presume to know what a writer deserves to be paid for, say, working on episodes of Cave Man, and I know that writing well--good dialogue, good plotting, believable characters with depth (things not in evidence in Cave Man)--is not a common skill. I hope that the strike is settled quickly and equitably.

But not only will I not much miss the grand majority of the tripe that the TV spews, I have absolutely no idea what equitable looks like and it just isn’t that important to me. I’ll leave the serious writing on the subject to those people who have a vested interest in the subject.

Read the rest of Lott’s comments.

Update: And now you can read Lott’s response to my response. Which makes this one of the longer blog-to-blog conversations that I’ve had in a while. Unfortunately, I don’t really have any further response. Turkey and carb overload seems to have robbed me of my capacity for thought.


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