Matt Bors
Comics, Politics & Ridicule

Bors Blog

Television and Strikes

I've talked to a few friends and neighbors about the writer's strike and found even very liberal people wishing it was over for a very trivial reason: they simply want their shows back on tv. People feel entitled to it. And besides, we're not talking about poor factory workers--these are bigshot writers.

As someone who makes their living through media (as a freelancer) I'm directly affected and deeply concerned by the lack of value media companies have placed on content as they switch over to "new media." This strike is important and their demands are not outrageous.

I've heard people say that they needed to go back on the air to save the shows so they would be there when the strike is over. This is a kind of circular argument. Of course the shows are in trouble--it's the point. One could just as easily point out that shows can't exist without writers (strikes exist to make this painfully clear to those at the top). As for the argument that the dispute doesn't affect these shows--it does. They're part of a union.

Another defense is that this is primary season and not a good time for these shows (Colbert and Stewart) to be off the air. That others would have soon lost their jobs. And that, you know, it's been a while, and they made their point. The point of a strike--the last resort unions have for leverage--is to put pressure on employers. You want them to be inconvenienced. If you're successful, you can get them to negotiate in good faith.

The fact that a lot of this kind of language seems like outdated griping and we should all go along and get along is really a testament to how much unions achieved in the first part of the 20th century. The level of comfort we've attained in our work week and labor conditions were not the result of asking nicely.

I don't even watch their shows regularly, but I tuned in the other night and found them doing some humor about the strike and being very ironic and showing some reluctance about being on the air. It made me feel a little uneasy. As we joked in our press release, they can't be let off simply because they are funny and we like their show. I agree with Rall's point here:
2. They're talking a lot on the air about unionism and the strike. While that's very meta, it doesn't wash. The best way to make sure the corporate bosses feel the pinch would have been to stay off the air.
What if all the shows are "forced" back on the air, like Colbert and Stewart, or deals are made with them all? Where would this strike be? No one said it was going to be easy.

There are numerous shades of gray that can be applied to how difficult there decision was, but when it comes down to it, I see it like this: they are WGA members, there was no deal for them to go back on air and they clearly have written material. Therefore, they should not be back on the air. They should be out on the sidewalk.

I'm getting very polarized reactions to my comic already. Some very supportive and amused, some very unhappy comedy central fans. I'll probably do a post about some of the reactions in the next two days.
01.17.2008 |



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