I sympathize with the members of the Writers Guild of America. After all, I'm a writer, too. Look at these words I'm writing right now! I may not be a member of the WGA, and maybe I've never written a screenplay or a TV script, but I use a lot of the same words those writers do. We are all brothers.
So I sympathize. Writers ought to be fairly compensated for their efforts, and it's terrible that the strike is hurting writers in the short run by preventing them from working.
But that being said, it's also a relief. I have so much crap stored up in my TiVo that I was despairing of ever working my way through it. If everything goes into reruns for several months, honestly, it will be a huge help to me. This strike is a godsend!
As for the movies, let's be honest: Hollywood makes too many movies anyway. Choose any month at random and I'll bet 50 percent of the films being released in it could just as well have been forgotten. Besides, as a movie critic, I have to see just about all of them. When a film is bad, I think, "This is time I could be spending watching old favorites, discovering classics I've never seen, and cleaning out my TiVo." I've always thought it would be terrific if Hollywood would take a month off and not release anything, just to clean out the system and give everyone a breather.
If the strike persists, that's what 2009 will be like. (Everything for 2008 is already written; it takes a long time to make a movie, even a bad one.) And again, while I sympathize with the writers needing to earn a living, would it really be such a bad thing if fewer movies were released in 2009?
Look at how many bad movies were released in 2007, and how a strike back in 2005 could have prevented them. Imagine a world where Bratz had never been made, where Norbit was nothing but a bad dream Eddie Murphy had, where Daddy Day Camp was stalled because the screenwriters all died in a horrific murder-suicide pact. What a world that would be! People would smile more as they strolled down the street, the flowers would bloom brighter, and the air would be filled with the sweet melody of birdsong!
Or take Wild Hogs. This is a movie that would have benefited tremendously from not being made. I don't know how much Disney paid Brad Copeland for his screenplay, but whatever it was, it was $1 million too much. Nonetheless, the film grossed $253 million worldwide, plus goodness knows how much more when it was released on DVD. As bad as his screenplay was, doesn't Copeland deserve a cut of those DVD sales? Of course he does. He contributed significantly to the film's awfulness. Without his efforts, the film wouldn't have been nearly as terrible as it was, and hence wouldn't have made nearly as much money.
Hmm. Maybe the problem isn't that Hollywood makes too many movies, but that Hollywood makes too many bad movies. What we need to do is figure out an arrangement where the good writers keep working while only the bad writers go on strike. They would march around with picket signs depicting fart jokes and Viagra references. Cuba Gooding Jr. and Robin Williams would be out there every day to support them. The strike could go on for years and no one would care.
Now all we have to do is choose someone to determine which writers are the bad ones. I nominate me.
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Eric D. Snider (website) can spot a bad writer a mile away.