Writers’ strike is justified

The Hollywood writers’ strike continues. Avid late-night television viewers, like myself, must now resort to less pleasurable methods of entertainment to pass our time and eventually shut our eyes. So, for now, I suppose homework, reading and studying are back on the top of my to do list.

On Nov. 4, after nearly 11 hours of negotiations, the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers failed to reach common ground. The Writers Guild and its 4,000 members started the strike Monday by picketing in New York and Los Angeles; a constant stream of reruns looms for TV viewers while the conflict remains unresolved.

“(The strike) is affecting us in the most visible way possible,” John Oliver, writer and correspondent for The Daily Show told CNN. “We’re off the air. We’d much rather work than stand in the cold. Writers are people who fear the sunlight,” he joked.

Essentially, the writers want more money from DVD sales, as well as part of the revenue generated from TV shows and films sold over the Internet. Seems simple, right? Not for the studios and producers who claim “the demands are unreasonable and would hamper attempts to experiment with new media,” according to a recent article from CNN.com.

No surprise here – I’m for the writers.

I wouldn’t feel right justifying the position of an industry that grosses absurd amounts of money and can’t learn to share the wealth.

But more importantly, writers begin the process of production. Without writers, there is no show. The writing is what makes your favorite show worth watching and makes viewers want to tune in the next week. And, if the writing is any good, it’s why you can’t stop wondering if McDreamy and Meredith’s roller coaster of a relationship will finally end on Grey’s Anatomy. If writers stop writing, interesting content and good dialogue are eliminated. Is this what American viewers want?

Reality television is just about the only programming that doesn’t require writers and it isn’t going anywhere, which doesn’t make me feel any better. Those shows only seem to further distort one’s perspective of the real ‘reality’ and lessen one’s critical thinking skills. Honestly, I could care less who gets A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila.

Studios say they are unaware of how much money is generated from offering entertainment on the Internet, cell phones, iPods and other devices, according to an article released by CNN.com. However, Adams Medical Research found that studios make $158 million from selling movies online and $194 million from selling television shows over the Internet. This money comes from consumers and goes straight into the pockets of producers and studios.

It’s surely dishonest for producers to claim they have no knowledge about the revenue they generate, especially in our post-modern culture, where the rapid growth of technology and information is overwhelming society.

To determine whether experiments with new outlets are successful, producers must review research that validates the habits of consumers and their response to the growing world of cyberspace. Without research or statistically proven information, producers are unable to gauge their success online. Somehow, I don’t believe their “hands-off” excuse.

Clearly, producers and studios know exactly how well they are doing – and are content with fueling their money-hungry industry.

Entertainment is a wealthy industry, and it’s getting richer without compensating those who are the most crucial to it: the writers. I could possibly force myself to understand (and maybe support) the producers’ and studios’ position if they weren’t generating revenue from sales of the material over the Internet.

However, if money is being made, it is important to know where it is – and isn’t – going. It only seems logical that the writers who create popular television shows should receive a cut of the money produced from their material. If television viewers are willing to pay to view a show online, the writers should be handsomely rewarded.

I’m not a huge television person, aside from the late-night talk shows. A favorite of mine, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, has already started airing reruns, surely a disappointment for those who have tuned in lately.

The last strike by the Writers Guild of America, in 1988, lasted 22 weeks and cost the industry more than $500 million, according to an article released by the Associated Press. How will I fall asleep without first listening to the day’s news being comically kicked around? I must now rely on movies and other primetime television shows for entertainment, as they are not said to feel the strike until early January because producers have stockpiled several scripts.

But, of course, there’s always I Love New York 2, right?