entertainment on strike

the world of entertainment is on strike. and how is it affecting me?

not much, i have to say. at least not directly.

first there’s the writer’s strike in hollywood. i guess that if you were a big tv watcher, you’d be upset about this. no new episodes of csi or lost or letterman or whatever, and all. but, having given up television (no cable tv, and our tv doesn’t have a tuner, so no over-the-air broadcasts either), i could care less. if the strike goes on long enough it could eventually affect the movies, and i’d care marginally more about that, but there are enough movies on netflix to last a lifetime. if they stopped making new movies tomorrow, i’d still never get to watch all the movies i’d like to see.

second strike is the stagehands on broadway. we don’t go to as many shows as we used to, so this doesn’t directly affect me in that sense. however, it definitely affects the economy of new york city, so in that sense i’m at least indirectly affected. but again, there are plenty of live entertainment options in new york — some broadway shows, off-broadway, off-off broadway, concerts, cabarets, and so on.

in general i support the concept of unions — we wouldn’t have much in the way of benefits and rights as workers if they hadn’t fought for them. and there are many jobs that i wouldn’t take unless there was a union to represent me. and when i taught school, i always belonged to the union — even though i agreed that they promoted and tolerated incompetence, i still saw the overall value in membership.

i think the writers have a valid point. everything’s going online, and if something they wrote is rebroadcast on the internet or sold via itunes, there should be some payment for that. of course, if the strike continues, there may not be much of an audience left for their product, given people’s limited and continually fracturing attention span. but they have a point, and they should press for a solution if they think the risk is worth it.

i don’t think it helps their image, though, to have big stars on the picket lines, and jay leno bringing them donuts, and so on. i’ll bet the vast majority of striking writers are middle class folks with middle class incomes, and all those big stars do is leave casual observers with the impression that all writers are wealthy people looking for even more wealth.

the broadway stagehands seem to me to have less of a point. i’ll be the first to admit that i’m not fully informed, but from what i can gather, one of their main demands is to retain the right to tell producers how many union members each show must hire.

i’m guessing that most people would think that an unreasonable demand. i know i do.

i’d love to have the contractual right to tell my company that they had to employ a set number of my co-workers. who wouldn’t? but that’s not reasonable. and while i’m sure greedy producers drive up the cost of broadway tickets, having to hire union employees regardless of actual need isn’t helping either.

for the sake of the economies of new york and los angeles, i hope both strikes are settled soon.

personally, though, i don’t care much either way.

update: with the broadway strike, what’s at issue is controlling how many workers are present at the load-in for the show (when all the sets, etc., are brought into the theater). i have less of a problem with that — i dont think the producers should be telling the union how many people that takes.