Joss on the WGA


Joss Whedon on the Writers’ Strike: Do Not Adjust Your Mindset

This was submitted by WGA and DGA member Joss Whedon.

Dear Writers,

I have good news. I have lots of good news. In fact, I have way too
much good news.

The strike is almost over. A resolution is days away. Weeks. Friday.
Valentine’s day. Two weeks exactly from whenever my manager/agent/
lawyer told me. Yes, after talking to writers and actors all over
town, I’m happy to report that the strike is going to end every
single day until March. Huzzah! All of this entirely reliable
information means that at last the dream of the writing community has
been realized: the Oscars will be saved.

Let’s step back.

The Oscars seem to be the point of focus for a lot of this
speculation. That either they must be preserved, or that the studios
feel they must be preserved, and therefore this terrible struggle
will end. There is an argument to be made for wanting the show to go
on: it showcases the artists with whom we are bonded (there’s no
award for Best Hiding of Net Profits), and it provides employment and
revenue for thousands in the community that has been hit so hard by
this action. Having said that, it’s a f%$#ing awards show. It’s a
vanity fair. It’s a blip. We’re fighting (fighting, remember?) for
the future of our union, our profession, our art. If that fight
carries us through the Holy Night when Oscar was born, that’s just
too bad.

And the studios? Well, the Oscars provide advertising revenue and a
boost for the films that win. But the studios have shown impressive
resolve in ignoring short-term losses in order to destroy us. I don’t
hear any knees knocking in the Ivory Towers over that night of
programming. Hey, I wish I did. I wish, like a lot of people, I could
hear anything from in there besides that weird clicking sound
Predator makes.

I ask you all to remember: the studios caused an industry-wide
shutdown. They made a childishly amateurish show of pretending to
negotiate, then retreated into their lairs (yes, they have lairs) to
starve us out. They emerged just before Christmas to raise our hopes,
then left in a premeditated huff. They Force Majoured with gay
abandon, cutting deals and ’trimming the fat’ (I’ve met a couple of
’the fat’ on the picket lines. Nice guys.) and made every selfish,
counter-intuitively destructive move in the Bully’s Bible. They met
with the DGA and resolved quickly, as expected.

We have been advised to tone down the anti-studio rhetoric now that a
deal might be progressing. Our negotiators have the specific task of
forgetting the past and dealing only with the numbers before them.
Their ability to do that impresses me greatly, but I maintain that
it’s their job to treat the studios like business partners and it’s
our job to remember who they really are. The studios are inefficient,
power-hungry, thieving corporate giants who have made the life of the
working writer harder from decade to decade. They are run by men so
out of touch with basic humanity that they would see Rome burn before
they would think about the concept of fair compensation. I maintain
that they have never revealed their true agenda in the causing and
handling of this strike, and to expect them to now is cock-eyed
optimism of the most dangerous kind.

I have heard people both in and out of the industry say, “But that’s
enough now, right?” I have seen the thing I fear most: that whatever
their agenda, they are beating us down. With hope. With rumors. With
Time. The mindset seems to be shifting to one of relief and even
unspoken gratitude for their return, instead of flaming indignation
that they ever (illegally, do you recall?) left the table in the
first place. It’s the mindset of the victim. The lethargy of limb
that strikes the fighter as he unconsciously lets himself lose. The
studio strategists have worked this scenario as carefully as they
have everything else. It is so crucial that we outside of the talks
remember that, and let them know we do.

This is not over. Nor is it close. Until the moment it is over, it
can never be close. Because if we see the finish line we will flag
and they are absolutely counting on us to do that. In the room,
reason. On the streets, on the net, I say reason is for the
’moderates’. Remember what they’ve done. Remember what they’re trying
to take from us. FIGHT. FIGHT. FIGHT.

I have been mugged an embarrassing number of times, even for a New
Yorker. I’ve been yelled at and chased, beaten down and kicked,
threatened with a gun and the only mugger who still hurts my gut is
the one who made me shake his hand. Until there is a deal – the right
deal, not the DGA deal – held out, let’s keep our hands in our
pockets or on our signs. Let’s not be victims. Let’s never.

In solidarity,

Joss Whedon

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