Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Hollywood Babble On & On #195: Coming Back Like A Bad Lunch

A tip of my jaunty fez to Nikki Finke for this report about how the movie mogul's association the AMPTP got the National Labour Relations Board to condemn the Writers Guild of America for publishing the names of members that went "fi-core" during the Writer's Strike.

Now for those who need to get their memories refreshed: Fi-Core is short for "financial core" which basically meant that they broke from their union to either keep working, or forge their own agreements with the moguls. The moguls made it easy for writers to go fi-core, and much to the chagrin of the WGA, a group of writers, mostly writer-producers in soap operas, went for it.

Now this is where the WGA made its biggest mistake of the strike.

They published a list of the members who went fi-core as if to shame them, shun them, and cast them into the outer darkness for betraying their comrades in the revolution. I opposed the list from the beginning, seeing it as a both immoral, in a "blacklisting" sense, and a major tactical blunder, and I have been proven right, again. I even proposed an alternative, a form of "truth and reconciliation" meeting to hash out their differences in private, to flush out the bad blood before it taints the union and its work.

Well guess what, it has tainted not only the union, but their work. At the very moment where the WGA is trying to get the AMPTP to live up to the contract they signed, the moguls get them slapped by the NLRB.

This isn't supposed to be war, it's supposed to be business. However, the unwillingness of the studios to reform their dreadful business practises have made this war. The moguls have kept their minds set on one thing, and one thing alone: Victory. Meanwhile the WGA has put ideology, righteousness, and control over victory. The whole fi-core situation was a classic "divide & conquer" move by the studios, and the WGA shouldn't have held it against them, they tried it themselves with their side deals with Lionsgate and United Artists. But the AMPTP just did it better.

The WGA should have known it was coming, and prepared plans and resources to counter it, before it damaged them and their cause. But they didn't, they sat back and hoped that being right would protect them, but being right doesn't put food on the table and pay the mortgage, and then screamed for vengeance against those who went off the reservation to forage for scraps.

I guess the best way to illustrate this situation is to keep with the war analogy. Imagine Army A has a treaty with Army B. Army B violates the treaty, even though it hurst them as well, but believes it will get away with it, because Army A is too busy chasing a handful of deserters into a trap, leaving Army A's territory undefended.

I would like to close with a piece of advice for the WGA: DON'T GIVE YOUR ENEMIES AMMUNITION TO USE AGAINST YOU.

How can they expect anyone in a position of authority to side with them when they gave the AMPTP all they needed to make them look like blacklisting goons, completely distracting everyone from the issue of contract violations. They have only themselves to blame, because they took their eyes of their mission: Victory.

1 comment:

  1. "The moguls have kept their minds set on one thing, and one thing alone: Victory. Meanwhile the WGA has put ideology, righteousness, and control over victory"

    To stick to the war analogy, this was pretty much what happened in the Spanish Civil War, as near as I can tell. Franco and the Nationalists concentrated singleminededly on victory, figuring that there would be plenty of time to deal with their own internal dissidents (Carlists, etc) after the war was won. The Republicans, thanks to their Communist mentors, wasted vast amounts of energy and resources on heresy hunts, purges, etc. See Orwell's "Homage to Catalonia" for details.

    And of course we all know how THAT came out...