Friday, November 09, 2007

Perchance To Dream, Ay There's The Rube...

No, that's not a typo...the Rube, as in Rube Goldberg machine.

From Wikipedia: a Rube Goldberg machine is a complex apparatus that performs a simple task in an indirect and convoluted way. The term also applies as a classification for a generally over-complicated apparatus or software. It first appeared in Webster's Third New International Dictionary with the definition "accomplishing by extremely complex roundabout means what actually or seemingly could be done simply."

Rube Goldberg's inventions can be seen as a unique commentary on life's complexities. They provide a humorous diversion into the absurd that lampoons the wonders of technology. These send-ups of man's ingenuity resonate in modern life for those seeking simplicity in the midst of a technology revolution.

Rube Goldberg evolves the simplified pencil-sharpener. Open window (A) and fly kite (B). String (C) lifts small door (D) allowing moths (E) to escape and eat red flannel shirt (F). As weight of shirt becomes less, shoe (G) steps on switch (H) which heats electric iron (I) and burns hole in pants (J). Smoke (K) enters hole in tree (L), smoking out opossum (M) which jumps into basket (N), pulling rope (O) and lifting cage (P), allowing woodpecker (Q) to chew wood from pencil (R), exposing lead. Emergency knife (S) is always handy in case opossum or the woodpecker gets sick and can't work.

Stick with me here.

The simplified pencil apropos. You see, I am a WGA member, but I presently live and work in Canada. Fortunately, the work I'm doing now doesn't require me to pick up a pen, or I'm able to put my pencil down, as it were.

So as an insider outside looking in...

Negotiations between the WGA and the AMPTP broke down on Sunday. This week, as scribes were joined by actors on the picket lines, we saw via blogs and the internet (ironically) testimonial after speech after testimonial from writers, performers, showrunners, old pro's, and newbies clearly and succinctly explaining the issues at hand as to what we are seeking with this strike, and why.

"It's all about the Internet, it's the big Kahuna, and both sides know it," says writer/director Josh Pate, whose credits include Friday Night Lights and Surface. "The deal that's made this year is the most important for both sides in decades."

But the studios and AMPTP leader Nick Counter would have you believe we're being completely unreasonable and Sunday's talks breakdown was all the writers fault. And Variety seems to be backing the studios. Though others are calling them on it. Fortunately, via the internet again, opposing arguments and opinions and (gasp) even the truth has been able to gestate, circulate, and hopefully, take hold.

And the solution to this messy contraption is relatively simple. It comes from Artful Writer's Craig Mazin.

When you look past all the whining and posturing and Kool-Aidy yammering from both sides, here’s one unemotional, inarguable, immutable fact.
If they’re saying “We don’t want to give more than .3” and we’re saying “We don’t want to take less than 2.5” then everyone in the world knows what that really means is:
“We’re starting at .3”
“We’re starting at 2.5”

There’s got to be a number between .3 and 2.5 that will satisfy both sides.
Has to be.

He's right you know...when it comes to compensation and residuals for entertainment being delivered over the internet, it's that simple. But like a Rube Goldberg invention, it's all being made way more complicated than it needs to be. The WGA and the writers they represent really aren't out of line with their requests (the studios have to know this) and we would probably agree to 2.0, and the AMPTP probably already has a number in the middle they'd give, let's say 1.5 --- split the diff and we settle at 1.75.

But that's only if the studios want to settle. Now. Today.

The sad thing is, everything seems to point to the studios actually wanting a long, drawn out and potentially devastating work stoppage.

Ay, there's the rub.


Alex Epstein said...

I wonder what the stockholders want?

Matt said...

These things do seem to follow a script.

I'll bet that sometime in week 2 or 3, one of the sides will walk away from the negotiating table in disgust.

The_Lex said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The_Lex said...

When emotions and corporate greed (aka bonuses for execs in the guise of "we're looking out for the best interests of the stockholders") come into play, things get messy.

On the other hand, I'm also seeing the breakdown of the commercial support for artistic expression, through the Internet and just people's general distaste for advertising. People want the content without seeing the sponsorship, but they don't want to pay the "market value" of said content. And the Internet makes it that much easier for people to cheat. . ..

Frankly, I think some kind of deeper change needs to occur if creative expression is to live beyond the level of fanfic, amateur hobbies or people doing it out of the strength of loving it.

I once had an idea of a nonprofit/foundation to support these things, then I realized you also need to get people to really feel love for the creative expression before they'd be willing to donate to it.