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Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Show Must Go On


Someone asked me what I thought of the writers' strike in Hollywood. And the truth was, I hadn't thought much about it. That surprised me, because I do think of myself as a writer. I tiptoe around that word as much as I can, because I hold the craft of writing in the highest esteem.


I understand that the writing industry is a multi-tiered fraternity that includes first-graders and Shakespeare, Howard Stern and Clive Staples Lewis, junk mail copywriters and Pulitzer Prize winners. When people hear the word writer, they often assume a certain requisite quality in the work of the craftsman bearing the name. Let me be clear about writing: to be called a writer, you don't need to write well; you need only possess the bravery (or the brazen indifference to the effect your words will have upon your audience) to write at all. With tiny scraps of the former, and an unfortunately healthy dose of the parenthesized latter, I forge ahead and dare to write. So I call myself a writer.

Maybe that should make me biased in favor of the writers in this dispute, but it doesn't really. I'm no expert in the nature of Labor Unions, other than to know that fear of their cumulative power drives me to capitalize the term. But strikes are, in general, very bad for business. I think parties on both sides need a good "snap out of it" slap across the face from Cher. Their inability to broker a deal is doing harm to them and them alone.

I believe Hollywood is positioning itself for a wake up call to a reality they don't want to admit exists. People don't need entertainment. Even if they did, they wouldn't need to get it from the town of Hollywood. This strike comes at the worst possible time for writers, and the best possible time for an entertainment-starved country. Reality TV, a bulging sports industry, a pathetically easy-to-plunder music industry, and the exponentially exploding You Tube phenomenon all threaten to steal the admiration of the masses.

Give America a few more weeks, and we might just discover that we didn't need TV as much as we thought we did.

There's a reason for "The show must go on" axiom in showbiz. If there's no show, there's no biz. And even though the writer in me secretly loves to think that nothing in this world can be accomplished without writers, pride is little solace for the people who are without work.

As for the rest of us who are surviving on reruns, syndication, and alternate forms of amusement, we're doing just fine, I think. Strike all you want. I'll find something better to do. . . .

But please, please, don't cancel Lost. Or The Office. Or 24. Or Boston Legal. And finish the last season of Scrubs. Other than that, I don't need you. Oh, and House. How could I forget House? I am a tower of fortitude. Yes.

Who am I kidding? Please come back!

1 comment:

  1. I do like that we've been forced to take a break from tv. Life does go on. But I'll admit I've loved having DVDs to supplement my time. Entertainment is nice, but I don't think we'll be scheduling our weeknights around "our shows" any more. I say this now, but when they're all back, we'll see...

    Steph

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