See what effect strike has on us

November 07, 2007|By KEVIN COWHERD

My fellow Americans, we now face the most daunting challenge of our times.

Can a nation reeling from an endless war in the Middle East, soaring oil prices, a tanking housing market and looming recession endure the ultimate suffering: Late Night with Conan O'Brien reruns?

Can we suck it up, stay the course, keep on keeping on when, at the end of the day, tired and stressed from our hectic lifestyle, we end up having a meltdown at Blockbuster because the newest inane Adam Sandler film isn't on the shelves yet?

Sure, we've faced tough times before.

But nothing like this.

This time we have to look at ourselves in the mirror and ask: Can we keep hope alive during the TV and movie writers' strike?

And the whole world is waiting to see how we respond.

I don't know how it is with you, but my heart breaks when I watch the 6 o'clock news and see footage of the poor Writers Guild of America members walking the picket line, some in Oscar de la Renta sport coats and tassle loafers, talking to their agents on their $600 iPhones.

These are working stiffs, just like you and me, even though some get up every morning in their McMansions and luxury condos, climb into their Land Rovers and Mercedes and go off to work in the carpeted, glass-enclosed salt mines overlooking Rockefeller Plaza in New York and Burbank, Calif.

And now they're getting hosed by the Man.

Just because they want what we all want: dignity, security and a bigger cut of DVD sales and Internet profits.

Is that so much to ask?

Apparently, it is, because the jack-booted thugs who run the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers sweatshops seem determined to deny even that basic right to the poor writers.

So I worry about the poor writers - the producers say the average working film writer in Hollywood makes $200,000 a year, I read.

But the superstar writers, well, they'll be cutting back on essentials like landscaping, catering, limo rides and nanny services just to make ends meet.

"No money? No downloads! No downloads? No peace!" was an actual chant from strikers in New York.

You don't think these people have been pushed to the edge?

But most of all, I worry about how this strike will affect the TV viewers of this great country, who have sacrificed so much and are now being asked to sacrifice even more.

For instance, where will we get our fake news from if the writers for Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are carrying protest banners and shooting their fists in the air instead of sitting at their laptops skewering Hillary Rodham Clinton and Rudy Giuliani?

And I've heard that if the strike drags on, we'll see even more stupid reality shows than we do now, because the stupid reality shows are written by writers not covered by the WGA contract.

Sure, our capacity for watching stupid reality shows seems unlimited right now.

We watch stupid reality shows about dopey young people living together and getting on each other's nerves, rich and bored California housewives you'd want to smother with their own yoga mats, fat people trying to lose weight in front of the whole country (no pressure there), plain people who'd submit to plastic surgery with a rusty tin can to improve their looks, trailer-trash bounty hunters with bad mullets (is there any other kind?) and haughty professional chefs berating novice chefs over how to prepare crepes, among other things.

But in a few months there could be a whole new batch of reality shows that make those old reality shows look like 60 Minutes.

And if the strike is still going on into next year, it'll be your favorite soap operas that go to repeats, while any drama struggling to find an audience will get whacked by the network bosses and tossed into a shallow grave.

In the meantime, though, I'll be pulling for my writer brothers in New York, Burbank and Hollywood during the strike - especially the well-heeled ones.

After all, how much can you take from the Man?

How long before you grab your BlackBerry while sitting around the pool at your vacation home on Maui and type: Take this job and shove it?

You can only take so much.

kevin.cowherd@baltsun.com

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