Tuesday, November 27, 2007

When families strike

How do labour strikes affect the day to day lives of the families of workers on strike? I remember being on the teacher's picket lines in Ottawa twice as a child. It's not only the income lost, it's the quality of life for the whole family affected. Here now, a dramatization:

Friday, November 23, 2007

big idea # 1123

So, as usual, the creative forces in charge of inspiring and entertaining us are being usurped by stone-faced corporate executives. We've seen it before and it's usually more under the table. More product-placement-and-let's-all-join-the-army messages in our day to day media. Nuffin new. But the people in charge this time around don't seem to be concerned that they are losing the zeitgeist participants who actually make the product they sell. The appearance is that some will return, most won't and after the "streamlining process" it the excess won't matter.

Up until now, the operation was fairly simple: you get signed, and everything you think of even if you're on vacation, it's four am and you were dreaming about something that happened to you as a child, no matter what it is, they own what's in your head. If you stumble onto a Burton-like situation as in the case of Disney's Jack Skelington character, you'll fight for what's yours, but you will likely be paid in the end.

Now there's a new player and the suitcoats are treating with aplomb and hegemony: cyberspace. The electronic information exchange where they can manifest their latest destiny. As such, they can at once claim it is profitless and make billions of dollars. And the writers? Why should they be paid for what they create? It's not like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates or Ralph Lauren get all bent out of shape when other people make a profit off of their products. I mean for god's sake, there are warm-hearted, humane, compassionate drug companies out there failing entirely to threaten the future of humanity by putting aside patent disputes on AIDS and Cancer drugs.

So the writers are in good company. Here's what I think they should do: webdesigners are non-unionized (so far, and hey, get on that guys!). They should hook up with as many independant webdesigners as possible and produce their own work for exclusive release on the web. They might need actors, but I hear a few members of the screen actors guild are off work at the moment for some coincidental reason. Yep, you're coming to it:

Fair Trade Television

Writers, Actors, Producers & Directors should all partake in the profit in what they create, along with amply stablizing the income of assistant gaffers, production assistants and camera crew who all need to make their mortgage payments. There's a free platform out there to offer work to the public. Adult Swim showed us that smaller time-slots don't affect a show's popularity and the people who buy adspace don't care who they're using. Target has no solidarity with Disney, Best Buy doesn't give a damn which network website carries their ads as long as people are watching.

This is the moment. Make it what it's supposed to be and leave the companies who want you out where they so richly belong: high and dry on the 51st floor. With silent phones and a prudent accounting department.

I'd watch.

more on the writer's strike

DEPO Unrest

Like most people, I spend my leisure time observing post-market surveillance of theraputic drugs and emerging pharmaceutical technologies not supported by the for-profit drug industry.

I usually just skim what's out there and then make a sandwich, but I found something just disturbing enough to write about last Thursday.

I have a deep natural bias against the authority figures who offer me information. I naturally suspect what white male supremacist companies and corporations offer me, so it is with unease and distrust that I observe ads for birth control pills that claim to make me more independent. They do on one level, but they are only marketed to women, making us solely responsible for birth control (what else is new?) and implicitly reminding both men and women that men are untrustworthy oversexed ogres. If men are never treated as capable of responsibility, why on earth will they ever step up to act responsibly? I find the whole thing deeply insulting, but again, what else is new?

So imagine my surprise to find that Depo Provera, a drug I've been told repeatedly is one of the safest and most advanced forms of birth control out there is not approved to be sold as birth control in Canada. I'll just repeat that: Depo Provera is NOT approved by Health Canada to be sold as birth control in this country. According to Health Canada, it is to be used only to treat endometriosis and selected cancers. Upjohn Canada doesn't feel this is a huge hurdle, and apparently it isn't. Depo Provera is still repeatedly prescribed by doctors to be used as a birth control pill for women despite Health Canada refusing to approve it. Their reason? It irreversibly reverses bone density. Sort of a shop till you drop situation.

Many such drugs that are designed to alter hormone imbalances have long-lasting side-effects, the nature of which is nowhere close to being understood since the drugs are so new. The hormonal birth control movement itself has been described as the largest live study ever undertaken with almost no accountability, no follow-up or indeed, curiosity.

When wealthy white men tell me that I can be more in control of my body by drastically altering it's hormonal makeup, I have to stop for at least a moment and admire the art of their sophistry. Apparently, the way out is through. By dramatically altering my emotions, weight, blood flow, bone density and increasing my risk of heart disease, stroke, infertility, cancer et cetera, I'm (according to them) taking charge of my life, my body, my freedom, ad nauseum.

On the subject of strokes, nurses in neurological wards apparently see pill strokes all the time. When eighteen-year-olds get migraines, that can't be why. So we continue to coagulate our blood and increase the amount of blood clots we get and tiiiiiimbeeeeeeeer.

There is no argument about the day to day lifestyle changes the pill has allowed for. A new drug consumer-base was created, families could more easily plan their size and so direct their money to commodity items, lower-class women had a better chance of limiting their dependents and so on. However, since it is women who are being tested on sometimes against their will or without their knowledge, and since it is white male owned & operated pharmaceuticals who benefit, I must strongly suggest limiting the use of such toxic, behaviour altering drugs.

For anyone out there who's on it and just skipped to the end: Depo Provera is NOT approved for sale as a birth control drug in Canada.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

what would a world without writers be?

This video is genius!

and so is this one:

Join the virtual picket line here: Hollywood Interrupted

writer's strike

As a writer used to being uncompensated for carefully crafted work (this blog notwithstanding the 'crafted' assertion), I sympathize utterly with the writers in hollywood who are on strike until their demands for proper compensation are met. I've heard some pretty nasty things being said about the underpaid creative class, along the lines of 'they're greedy', 'they're insulting blue collar workers and labour unions', 'they are already overpaid', etc. Well, since writers are particularly well-suited to getting their messages out, I found some wonderful explanations of the dispute from the writers themselves. Ironically the main point of contention between the writers and the studios they work for is internet rights and the internet is where the information is being delivered.

Here's one from the writers of the Daily Show:

This next one is from the Office:

This is from the Writers Guild of America:

From the good people who bring us the Simpsons:

From Seth MacFarlane (btw, Family Guy was cancelled and brought back due to huge dvd sales which writers were not compensated for):

An eloquent and passionate dissection of the situation by Tim Kazurinsky (Sweetchuck from Police Academy, writer of various shows and movies):

Here is a great one where the studio owners themselves discuss financial rewards of internet television. Their main argument against the strike is that internet content is valueless.

Finally, one of my favourites from a while ago. It doesn't have to do with the strike directly, but it's a perfect outline of the sentiment studios have towards their writers and production staff. Thanks Lewis Black, for so eloquently identifying it:

Join the virtual picket line here: Hollywood Interrupted