November 16, 2007

First Person:

WHITE WRITERS STRIKE

By Al Carlos Hernandez

TV and film writers have gone on strike and are walking catered picket lines with very clever no doubt re-written, glib and cutesy picket signs.

I have noticed that there are very few people of color on those picket lines or very few over 40. There is no surprise that most of network TV is written by sliver spoon fed 30 something’s, that’s how the whole Caveman TV show happened.

Those walking the line are the same folks who make American Dad’s look like obdurate incompetent wimps, Teenagers smart and women amorally always available.

Seems that the writers never lived in a functional working family and have invented an iconoclastic value system that lends itself to a handheld camera, the problem being, the camera is myopically focused on lifestyles that don’t really exist and are not built to last.

One could make the case that I am a player hater, that I’ve written several screenplays and TV pilots that have never gone anywhere, I’m told I’m either ahead of the curve or the way I think is whack and they could be right, my stories come from real life adventures not a Harvard think tank.

I have shunned those minority writing internship programs for the comedically challenged, they are like a writers Special Olympics for third string wannabes.

To join the writer’s guild you have to have a TV or Film writing job and you cannot get a writing job usually until you are in the Writers guild. They no doubt fashioned their guild policy on the old catch 22, if you know you are crazy than you cannot be considered insane.

Like they say in LA, “It is not who you know, it is who knows you.” As they say in Oakland, “Don’t hate the player, hate the game.”

Big respect to the late night talk show hosts, who won’t cross the picket lines and attribute their successes to writers who do the grunt work, it is incredible difficult to be funny on cue, most comedians are one shtick ponies.

If I were in the writers guild I would love to walk the picket line, I had lot’s of experience walking them with the Farmworkers back in the day, when the struggle for Latino Civil Rights where for many families do or die.

Would be great to bring out my old Brown Beret and mean mug bourgeois boulevard traffic, but by exclusionary politics the guild has stacked the deck so urban ethically dangerous cats like me don’t make it into the varsity. Maybe I should have studied more in school and acclimated instead of agitated the body politic.

With all that being said, I support the White Writers strike 100 percent, it is the Unions that has always protected the rights of working people, even if they are androgynous pedantic no life having panderers to mall mentality banality.

Guild writers are entitled to a living wage and all of the financial benefits from their work irrespective of the media it ends up in, or the audience it pl ays to. They are entitled to a piece of the action, the fruit of their labor, wait, it seems I accidentally made a Farm Worker analogy again.

I am aware that there are scabs that are taking out ads and making their availably known. There is nothing worse than a scab except a TV producer, agent, or entertainment lawyer.

Because of the strike TV will be different for the next few months; the only real humor will be local news broadcasts, Guanabee, Raiders Football and TMZ.

Let’s hope that the strike is resolved to the benefit of writing artists, let’s hope the writing artist of the guild invite more non traditional members into the exclusive club.

Groucho Marx could have been wrong when he said, “I would never join a club that would take me as a member”.

Al Carlos Hernandez writes from Hollywood.

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