Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Hollywood Babble On & On #1177: The Wages of Sin & the Sins of Wages

Do you remember what I like to call the "Self-Fulfilling Idiocy?"

It's when someone in a position of authority thinks they have a problem, one that doesn't really exist, and they think that they have a solution, but this "solution" isn't really a solution and can only create new and real problems that are worse than the imaginary one that got the ball rolling.

In Hollywood these self-fulfilling idiocies tend to gravitate towards money. The studios and networks have always hated the fact that in order to function, and profit, they need to pay people to create the material they need to put on screens. They see it as a problem.

But wages for work are not a problem.

The market has ways to control salaries. A business that pays more than what the market can bear, tends to go bankrupt, and a business that pays less than what the market calls for tends to lose skilled and experienced workers to competitors, quality suffers, they lose customers to their better paying competitors, and eventually go out of business.

Now there are ways to get around the organic ways of the market, and that's through something called COLLUSION.

Collusion is when people who are supposed to be competitors meet and decide to not compete, but instead conspire to find ways that they think will boost their profits. However collusion may sound great in theory, but in practice is often more trouble than it's worth, but I'll get back to that in a minute.

For now I'm going to talk about the most obvious ways companies collude, and that's in the suppression of wages. Right now the WGA is investigating accusations that studios and networks are artificially keeping writer's wages down by forcing writers into bogus writing 'teams.' Meanwhile, the three biggest animation studios in Hollywood, Disney, Dreamworks and Sony have been targeted by a class action lawsuit claiming that the three companies secretly agreed to not use higher wages to lure away their rival's animators.

Now the executives and moguls who came up with those ideas are probably lightly bruised from patting themselves on the back, but they don't see the problems they're creating. They don't see the Self-Fulfilling Idiocy.

You see the problem with artificially manipulating wages down is that while it might boost your bottom line in the short term, it attracts problems in the long term.

First come UNIONS.

You can only push around workers, who you might consider the poor and the desperate, for so long before they start to push back. They form unions, they have strikes, and they get contracts signed and enforced regardless of the market forces.

If that doesn't work, and you game the system past its breaking point, then you get:


Politicians love to present themselves as friends of the working man and woman. But what they really want is to do things that make themselves look electable, and get money to pay for their next campaign.

So if you're a company engaged in collusion that means you have politicians at your door with their hand out twenty-four/seven. If you fail to keep the politicians happy, or Xenu forbid, a party you didn't support gets into power, then you're dealing with…


Legislation is a contract that's imposed upon you by the government that is enforced by a SWAT team arriving at your office and you being perp-walked to the nearest jail.

The problem with legislation is that it's often written by lobbyists, politicians, and lawyers. They don't write business regulations for the benefit of employers or employees, or even with much knowledge of the business they're regulating.  They write legislation for the benefit of themselves. That means if you're an employer in a newly state regulated industry, you have to regularly shell out to lobbyists, politicians, and lawyers to keep those regulations from ruining your business, and putting you in jail.

And that's not counting what happens when you collude to suppress the wages of creative people: THEY DON'T BRING YOU THEIR 'A GAME.'

That means the quality of the material your studio is producing drops. With that so goes viewership. And they wonder why network television is dying, and movie attendance is hitting record lows.

So what's better?

How about letting things like wages for writers and animators be set by the market. That means that, like water, they will find their own level. One that makes the workers happy, the employers happy, and hopefully the audience happy too.

But that requires intelligence and effort, which is seriously lacking in Hollywood.

1 comment:

  1. Backtrack from Cocaine, Hookers, and Yachts: How Hollywood Is Bankrupting Itself

    "Furious D explains just one aspect of movie studio corruption and why it’s self-defeating. (In a practical sense, not moral.) There are many others."