I don't tend to dwell on industry issues here, since it's the only place in the world that actually is all about me so I don't have to waste energy feigning interest in things that might detract from that happy delusion. However, with all the talk about the looming writers' strike--the male posturing in the trades, the accusatory he said he said e-mails, the foreboding "Pattern of Demands" postmarked today that requires my urgent attention and support--I figured I'd offer a shout-out to the guys in charge. We don't care.
We want to care. We know we should care. But inasmuch as we can't imagine any of it ever applying to us, we can't seem to get invested in figuring out just what it is you're getting at. There are 13,000 WGA West members and 12,910 of us are really busy looking for our next jobs. As for the remaining ninety of you, I am dubious about your steadfast insistence that I receive "the first opportunity to write the interactive game" based on my feature films and original television series.
The thing is this hasn't come up lately--okay, ever--nor have "certain ancillary uses" of my comedy-variety materials, since only one in seventeen writing jobs in this particular area go to a girl in the first place. When's the last time you saw one of us standing up there in a tux behind Jon Stewart at the Emmys? If The Daily Show had seventeen girls on staff, it would be known as the biggest dykefest on the airwaves. Most perplexing of all is some obtuse demand for increased funding of showrunner training. This comprises the most exclusionary and highest paid of all branches of the guild, so it's unclear as to why these guys should receive more money to find creative new ways to shun me.
Don't get me wrong, boys, I'm very pro union, and you can rely on my vote to support whatever agenda you ask me to support. I will vote to strike and I will walk the picket line, as long as I get the free sunscreen and t-shirt. I mean, "Norma Rae!" and all that. How cute was Sally Field, fists raised, in her blue collar belly shirt and tight little Jordache jeans? No wonder Charlize Theron copied her hairdo when the movie was re-made as North Country, also formerly known as Erin Brockovich. My point being that there is strength in numbers, and I am damn happy to finally have defied my age and gender to be counted among the ranks of the "working" Hollywood writer.
I also know that without the union screenwriters would routinely be expected to clean the producer's pool when delivering a two hundred million dollar Jack Black vehicle we were hired to write for ten bucks an hour plus lunch and gas. For that, I am forever grateful to the Hollywood Ten and the rest of the McCarthy-era organizers who risked being branded commie pinkos in an effort to seek fair treatment for generations of writers to come. I just think we should all be focusing on things that are more important to moi.
My personal Pattern of Demands begins with certain improvements to the Health Plan. I think it should include free plastic surgery treatments for underemployed female writers approaching forty. There are only twelve members who meet this general description, so really, what could it cost? I think spa treatments should be covered at ninety percent after meeting the lowered annual deductible, along with manicures, pedicures and the removal, shaping, or conditioning of any and all unwanted hair. The Pension Plan should kick in at thirty-eight, but you should only have to admit to thirty-four in order to become fully vested. One-hour television episodes should include a new pair of shoes of the writer's choice, and the minimum basic agreement on original features should be expanded to require daily deliveries from California Pizza Kitchen. Re-writes, well, they shouldn't be allowed at all. In the event I ever want another writer's opinion on my work, I'll be sure to ask for it and get back to you.
That's about all I can think of for now, but I will not be ignored, and I will not go away. One person's voice is where it all starts, and mine will be raised until somebody sits up and takes note. Imagine my twelve-year-old wiener dogs' surprise when I lie in bed with them chanting--Norma Rae, Norma Rae, Norma Rae--until one or both roll over and fart to express unflinching support of my cause.