Was It Worth It?Complications Ensue
Complications Ensue:
The Crafty Screenwriting, TV and Game Writing Blog


April 2004

May 2004

June 2004

July 2004

August 2004

September 2004

October 2004

November 2004

December 2004

January 2005

February 2005

March 2005

April 2005

May 2005

June 2005

July 2005

August 2005

September 2005

October 2005

November 2005

December 2005

January 2006

February 2006

March 2006

April 2006

May 2006

June 2006

July 2006

August 2006

September 2006

October 2006

November 2006

December 2006

January 2007

February 2007

March 2007

April 2007

May 2007

June 2007

July 2007

August 2007

September 2007

October 2007

November 2007

December 2007

January 2008

February 2008

March 2008

April 2008

May 2008

June 2008

July 2008

August 2008

September 2008

October 2008

November 2008

December 2008

January 2009

February 2009

March 2009

April 2009

May 2009

June 2009

July 2009

August 2009

September 2009

October 2009

November 2009

December 2009

January 2010

February 2010

March 2010

April 2010

May 2010

June 2010

July 2010

August 2010

September 2010

October 2010

November 2010

December 2010

January 2011

February 2011

March 2011

April 2011

May 2011

June 2011

July 2011

August 2011

September 2011

October 2011

November 2011

December 2011

January 2012

February 2012

March 2012

April 2012

May 2012

June 2012

July 2012

August 2012

September 2012

October 2012

November 2012

December 2012

January 2013

February 2013

March 2013

April 2013

May 2013

June 2013

July 2013

August 2013

September 2013

October 2013

November 2013

December 2013

January 2014

February 2014

March 2014

April 2014

May 2014

June 2014

July 2014

August 2014

September 2014

October 2014

November 2014

December 2014

January 2015

February 2015

March 2015

April 2015

May 2015

June 2015

August 2015

September 2015

October 2015

November 2015

December 2015

January 2016

February 2016

March 2016

April 2016

May 2016

June 2016

July 2016

August 2016

September 2016

October 2016

November 2016

December 2016

January 2017

February 2017

March 2017

May 2017

June 2017

July 2017

August 2017

September 2017

October 2017

November 2017

December 2017

January 2018

March 2018

April 2018

June 2018

July 2018

October 2018

November 2018

December 2018

January 2019

February 2019

November 2019

February 2020

March 2020

April 2020

May 2020

August 2020

September 2020

October 2020

December 2020

January 2021

February 2021

March 2021

May 2021

June 2021

November 2021

December 2021

January 2022

February 2022


Thursday, April 03, 2008

Tonight South Park aired a new episode where Canada goes on strike, I assume to create a parallel for how they viewed the writers' strike. I love South Park, and I don't always necassarily agree with their "point" when they make one, but tonight's episode had me thinking. Their basic point seemed to be that what was ultimately won wasn't that much, but those leading the strike acted like it was. And the cost of the strike may have outweighed the benefits.

So was the strike a big win for writers or not? I'm confused!
I think the big win for the writers was not losing the strike.

What the studios wanted to do was set in place rules that, as TV reruns move onto the Net, abolished residuals. I don't have the numbers in front of me but residuals are a hefty chunk of writers' income, let's say for the sake of argument 40%. Was it worth going without pay for less than three months in order to prevent an ultimate 40% pay cut? You bet.

Moreover, had the Guild rolled over and accepted a 40% pay cut, that would not have been the end of it. The studios will always push for concessions until they meet resistance. Why wouldn't they? If they got free Internet distribution, they'd be back in three years to cut pension contributions. Or script fees. Or demand that writers shine their shoes.

What the Guild got was a small payment on Internet distribution which is to increase as Internet distribution rises. The principle was essential. The numbers for year one and year two of the deal were not so important. The third year numbers are what's important, and the principle.

The details of the agreement probably don't make anyone terribly happy. That's in the nature of these negotiations. But the Guild proved it won't roll over, and that when it says it's going to strike, it will strike. Next time the MBA comes up for renewal, I'd be surprised if the studios try to ram rollbacks down the Guild's throat. Nobody wants another strike.

Trey and Matt are entitled to their own opinion. They moved from struggling animators to gagillionaires in one bolt of lightning. They have never had to rely on Guild-negotiated minimums. The Guild is not there to protect Trey and Matt. All their deals are way over scale, and no one at a studio wants to piss them off. The Guild is there to protect your average working writer who can be replaced and knows it.

You, in other words.

Was it worth it? You bet.

Labels: ,


The episode also said that the internet is not yet capable of making enough money that necessitates changing contracts.

Trey and Matt should know, they recently put all their episodes online for free viewing at www.southparkstudios.com, brought to you by Toyota, Chili's, Virgin Mobile and Disney.

By Blogger Jud, at 4:32 PM  

Years ago the WGC accepted the same argument for videocassette revenues -- oh, it's a new and unproven technology, we don't know how to make money off of it! Writers are still suffering for the bad deal the WGC made for videocassettes, because the payments never went up, and got rolled over onto DVDs, and indeed are the basis for the free-to-distribute internet downloads.

It's all about precedent.

And, "brought to you by" is not the same as "free." It just means that Toyota is paying for it.

If Toyota is paying Trey and Matt for South Park, shouldn't the writers of the episodes get paid for it?

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 5:16 PM  

Yes I definitely think if money is being made, a share of it should go to the writers. I thought it was ironic for them to take that stand on the show when their site has all these big names buying ad space.

I knew Trey and Matt have contempt for most of Hollywood, but I thought maybe they'd have a bit more sense and recognize the difference between most writers and their uber-successful selves.

By Blogger Jud, at 7:00 PM  

I think the whole metaphor was faulty anyway. They were stretching the connection beyond its capability.

I did think the intense gopher thing was funny. The rest of the episode - meh. They tried to hard to make a connection where there wasn't one.

By Blogger Emily Blake, at 7:16 PM  

I pretty much lost all respect for Matt and Trey when I saw an interview with them where they criticized stars particularly, but everyone in general, for speaking out against the president. I remember their exact words were: "You gotta support the team." Yes, they were saying you shouldn't criticize George Bush. That was about a year or so after 9/11. They didn't seem to understand the irony of what they were saying, considering what their show does every week.

By Blogger Tim W., at 6:50 PM  

I have really mixed feelings about "South Park." For the most part, I find the humor on the show pretty juvenile. That's not to say it's never made me laugh on occasions (when I'm inclined to indulge in juvenile humor (when I'm drunk on the couch at 2 am)). Otherwise I don't care for it.

I wasn't surprised to find one of them, Trey or Matt, pretty juvenile when I heard him interviewed on NPR's "Fresh Air."

In today's corporate culture, any union victory is one to be celebrated. I mean--what? The Exxon's, GE's, and Starbuck's' aren't a bunch of ruthless, greedy bastards? And the journeyman craftsmen and laborers are the real gluttons? Save that shit for the '80's where it belongs.

By Blogger David, at 5:10 PM  

I'm not sure they believe everything position their show seems to advocate. In this case, it's possible that they meant it, and thought the writers lost all but the symbolic victory.

But it's also possible that they took that premise, and ran with it, and ran with it some more until they beat it into a pulp, even if their own opinion was more complicated than that.

One would have to ask, but I'm not sure they'd even give a straight answer, unless they were with friends.

By Blogger Unknown, at 9:54 AM  

Post a Comment

Back to Complications Ensue main blog page.

This page is powered by Blogger.