Thursday, 24 January 2008

Hollywood Babble On & On... #34: Trust Me... really... I mean it sincerely...

It looks like the WGA and the AMPTP are heading back to the table and it looks like the WGA has dropped it's demands to unionize reality tv writers and the already unionized animation writers.

I've always thought those two items were 'giveaways.' Giveaways are my term for items in a negotiation that someone really doesn't want, but could want, that can be dispensed with during the negotiations as a face-saving measure for both.

Now did the WGA push for their giveaways too hard in the beginning, causing the AMPTP's infamous walk-out, or were the AMPTP just being dicks?

I don't know for sure, you can't be more of a Hollywood outsider than me, but I do have my theories.

There are those in the WGA leadership who may have pushed to hard one way, and the industry pushed too hard the other way, and there's a reason for that. The reason being the serious lack of a very important commodity.

That commodity is trust.

Trust doesn't have to come from the belief in the sincerity, honesty and integrity of the other. Hell two royal bastards can trust each other simply when they know that working together is a mutually beneficial situation.

The royal bastards trust each other because they know the other is not stupid enough to ruin a mutually profitable situation.

The problem with Hollywood is that it's so obsessed with it's own form of Hollywood Darwinism that Hollywood people will eagerly shoot themselves in the foot if means putting the screws to someone else.

The history of the industry, especially in the corporate-mogul era, is chock full of such cases. Executives alienate profitable filmmakers and stars in petty territorial pissing contests, and vice versa.

And this Darwinism isn't survival of the fittest, but the survival of the most treacherous. Executives with disastrous records running businesses get promoted, literally 'failing up' to top posts simply because they 'marked their territory' with internal political games.

The same can be said for the artists, who get hailed as being 'rebellious artistes' for simply having a lack of diplomacy, tact, and basic negotiation skills.

So the common sense that would maintain a mutually beneficial relationship get pounded into the nether-regions of stupid, because it's no longer about business, but about ego.

Business and art be damned, Hollywood is all about image, and everyone wants to look like the top dog, whether they've got the bite or not.

So you end up in a situation where negotiations that should have been simple, become needlessly complicated because both sides know the other is egocentric enough to do something really stupid if only for the brief, often illusory appearance of having the leg-up on the other one.

This is how it boils down.

1. Ego destroys common sense.

2. The loss of common sense destroys the capacity for trust.

3. The lack of trust and common sense leads to unreasonable, even irrational behaviour on both sides. Reasonable negotiation becomes impossible.

4. What should be symbiosis becomes adversarial and you get a strike that should have never happened and an entire industry hurting because of it.

Another way to put is this little Hollywood parable.

A frog meets a scorpion in the bushes by the banks of a wide river. They both need to cross a river to get to Hollywood, but the scorpion can't swim, and the frog knows that there's a bird waiting to eat him as soon as he's out of his hiding place in the bushes.

After a brief discussion of their situation the scorpion asks to ride across the river on the frog's back.

The frog initially says: "No way dude, you're a scorpion, you'll sting me and I'll die."

The scorpion replies: "If I sting you, I'll drown, and what good will that do for any of us, besides: my being on your back will scare away that bird that wants to eat you. It's a mutually beneficial arrangement."

The frog thinks about it for a moment, and then agrees.

All goes swimmingly until they reach the middle of the river and POW!

The scorpion stings the frog.

The frog feels himself dying and with his last breath says: "Why did you sting me, now we're both going to die."

"Yeah," said the scorpion, "but I looked really cool stinging you."

Then they both died.

At least, that's my theory. What's yours?


  1. Somewhat OT D, have you seen this?,2933,325457,00.html

    WTF is up with Bello? I can't imagine any actress relatively sane making such a debased movie. Or Patric for that matter.

    I just don't get it. Is the whole point of making movies to be as debased and shocking as possible?

  2. Remember Sturgeon's Law: 99% of human creative endeavour is gonna turn out to be crap.

    Now the main reason people would make a film about self-mutilation, sexual deviance/extreme fetishes, cannibalism, paedophilia, or other such "shocking" topics is that they're still rebelling against the old Hayes Code, and want to be seen as "edgy" and "daring" and that can be used to cover up some mistakes as a filmmaker or actor.

    However only about 1% of films designed to shock, actually have any real artistic merit, and they're usually the one's with their roots in a real story, and not just shocking set-pieces.

    The problem is a lot of people can't tell the difference until after the film is made, and then are more interested in covering up their screw-up than admitting a mistake.

    I hope that explains it for you.