(From WGA Member Red Sox Fan)
"Now, in reality, the world have paid too great a compliment to critics, and have imagined them men of much greater profundity than they really are." --Henry Fielding , The History of Tom Jones
Ever noticed how so many critics demand perfection from everyone but themselves? They sit outside the arena, claiming facts not in evidence, and render their (almost always biased) judgments. Some critics would have you believe that every mistake the WGA leadership has made is completely their fault, while everything they've done right is either dumb luck or someone else's doing.
Back in July, I had no bias about the WGA leadership. I'd heard them say some things I wasn't thrilled by, and I'd heard some things I liked. As someone who falls into the category of "average working writer," I did not want to strike, but I was willing to in order to protect my future livelihood.
Seven months later, I am biased in favor of the WGA leadership. Not rah-rah, but I'm liking most of what I see. Have they made mistakes? Of course. They got bamboozled by the companies on the DVD thing. They got suckered into an argument over seating arrangements. Other errors, or perceived errors, have been picked over on other websites in nauseating detail, to no positive effect.
One thing I have never heard any critic talk about is the enormous courage and self-sacrifice being shown by Patric Verrone, John Bowman, and the rest of our board and negotiating committee. These people have real balls. They have essentially given up two years of their lives in order to get a fair deal for the rest of us. They are operating under enormous pressure, days/nights/weekends, nonstop. With a few exceptions, they are all going broke as quickly as the rest of us.
I have been a member of the WGA for twelve years, and during that time I have watched our membership incrementally lose its bargaining power due to a devastating combination of industry consolidation and poor union leadership (not just the WGA).
It takes a hell of a lot to turn that around. To keep a diverse, fundamentally angry group of 7,000 people together for three cold, hard months. To be the target of media smear campaigns (taking the bullet for the rest of us), yet help to get 80% of the American people to say they support our cause. To recognize that when the congloms left the table, the strike turned into a writing contest -- which our membership won in a rout.
It's not luck when you build a new, incredibly strong bridge to SAG, without whom we would have had to settle long ago.
It takes fortitude and integrity to endure the wrath and second-guessing of everyone with a keyboard, but at the same time listen to valid criticisms and adjust accordingly.
You have to have real balls to go before the membership and talk candidly about the risks of trying to turn the divide and conquer strategy back on the companies -- as the leadership did in Santa Monica in December -- and then go for it, because the potential upside is so significant.
And it's not someone else's doing when that strategy yields tangible dividends.
As to our present situation, I'm glad the leadership has been quiet and reserved since the DGA deal was announced. Instead of grabbing a microphone and waving their gun (the Oscars) around, they have been studying the deal, talking to the companies, and listening to the membership and each other. In other words, they have been representing us, not themselves.
That's why I'm biased for them. They're biased for me.
See you at Paramount.
Red Sox Fan