You Have Nothing to Lose But Your Residuals

YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE BUT YOUR RESIDUALS….My friend Jay Jaroch, a writer for Bill Maher’s HBO show Real Time, is braving the harsh 60-degree weather in Studio City today to man the picket lines in the WGA strike. He files this report:


Kevin, ever the champion of the working man — even when that work isn’t the type that inspires John Mellencamp — thought it’d be fun to get a report back from the front lines of the writers’ strike.

Now, I’m not on the actual front lines. Those are in the negotiating room. I was simply one of the thousands of writers in New York and Los Angeles who held a sign outside a studio yesterday.

But oh, hold a sign I did. And walk in a circle for four hours, which is probably the most exercise any of us have gotten in years. And we’ll be out there again today, even though the news channels have already gotten everything they need — namely footage of us holding signs and walking in a circle, which they can then replay ad nauseam whenever they cover the story again. (Think terrorists and monkey bars.)

But it was a good day for two reasons: one, because turnout was incredible (3,000 strong in Los Angeles, though I’ll skip the part about how it’s virtually mandatory) and two, because there wasn’t much in the way of chanting. And it’s not because we’re not serious. It’s just that writers are a universally cynical bunch, and getting them to chant something that rhymes with “Hey-hey, ho-ho” is like sort of like trying to get Ann Coulter to eat. But that doesn’t mean we don’t want to be out there, or at least on strike. It just means we’ve got some fucking dignity left, for Christ’s sake.

And who among us wasn’t touched when regular Americans started rising up and joining us outside the studio? Okay, those were just fans of Dancing with the Stars getting in line, but still.

Now, if you’re really interested in what the issues are….

….they’re fairly lengthy, though not complex, and if I typed them all out here you’d fall asleep. Plus, you can get it all over at Arianna’s site, which has been overwhelmed by the big regional news the same way Drudge goes batshit each time there’s a hurricane anywhere near Florida. (I believe the scientific name is a “Killstorm.”)

But if you’re wondering why this should bother you, other than not being able to get your Conan-Colbert-Maher-Stewart-Letterman fix, or because the torture on 24 suddenly seems tired, instead of invigorating and spontaneous like it normally does, the reason is simple, and it’s the same reason why Kevin is always telling you about CEOs and wages and the declining bargaining power of American workers: because corporations like this growing trend where they get to bring in more and more revenue and then give less and less to the people who helped generate it. And that sentence went on far too long.

So in a way, sort of, it’s about those same pink houses Mellencamp sings about, just in a different city.

And I’d make a joke there, but I want my pal Andrew Sullivan to link to me.

I would add, however, that even facing the prospect of months without paychecks, as well as negotiations with six corporate giants and their virtually limitless pocketbooks, only 10% of WGA members didn’t vote to authorize the strike. The stakes are that obvious. Unless you’re the type of writer who is friends with Kathryn Jean Lopez, and then they’re not, because you just emailed her this:

I am officially on strike. I was one of the ten percent who voted against it. Big mistake on the writers part. I spent last night watching football, The Next Iron Chef, and Law and Order re-runs. I can live without writers so I’m sure the rest of America can as well.

Which would almost make a tiny bit of sense if football hadn’t been running against scripted television since the days of FDR and compensation for the re-runs of TV shows like Law & Order wasn’t exactly what we’re fighting over. But it has, and it is, which makes him/her look both silly and uninformed at the same time.

And he/she is a friend of Kathryn Jean Lopez. Who would have thought?