Today, John Ridley defended his decision to go Fi-Core in an Op-Ed for the Los Angeles Times. Both the tone and the content of Ridley's piece reek of a child taking his ball and going home. Of course, children learn very quickly that being alone with your ball sucks.
I don't really care about John Ridley personally. But I do care that there are people out there who agree with him, who think he just did something noble. Yes, people have rights. If you're walking down the street and you see someone being mugged you have a right to keep walking. But having a right isn't the same as doing the right thing.
Here are six reasons why going Financial Core is the wrong thing:
#1: The Writers Guild of America is a democratic institution. Leaders were elected and a strike authorization passed by majority vote. If you didn't vote for either I understand your frustration, but you're still a part of this democracy. I didn't vote for Bush, but I don't stage a coup or renounce my citizenship (though I'm often tempted).
#2: There is a "we." One commenter on Unitedhollywood.com wrote, "There is no 'we.' It's my name on my lease... on my bank account." True, but when you sell your first screenplay, see how much you get without the WGA minimum. And good luck with your screen credit. (And for those who say the credit system is flawed, I promise you, it's not as flawed as the old days when the studio decided who got credit.) Good luck getting more money for that "producer's polish" on your script. See you at the premiere! Oh, wait, without guild protections, you're not invited. All these protections -- and many more -- are ours only because other writers stood together and fought.
#3: Character is defined by the decisions you make in a crisis. True on the page, true in life. Walking a picket line in the first week wasn't so bad, right? A social experience for people used to working alone -- chanting, singing, dancing, churros, celebrities. But walk that line in the ninth week, the nineteenth week, walk it when you don't agree with your leadership but you know that solidarity is the only thing that allows collective bargaining to work. That's character.
#4: Trust what you know, not what you don't. We voted because we know that any future without new media residuals is completely unacceptable. That we know. Have our leaders made a few missteps? Oh, yes. Are Animation and Reality going to get horse-traded away? Probably. Have the studios offered an acceptable residual rate? No. Has the AMPTP been successful in the past at weakening the guild through shrewd negotiating, propaganda, taunting, baiting, deep pockets, and patience? Yes.
#5: The AMPTP, like any political campaign, is constructing a narrative. In the beginning they said that new media was a non-starter. Now they say the WGA NegComm is more interested in jurisdiction and should focus on new media. Why would they do that? Because this thing only ends with some type of compromise on Internet residuals, but they can't make that deal without validating the strike. So instead they say, "Your leadership sucks! We're going to talk to the 'reasonable' guild."
My crystal ball is no better than yours, but I expect the AMPTP to make a deal with the DGA and then announce that the WGA could have had the same deal three months ago if only our leaders had been professionals or were better negotiators. Or if they had enough chairs. They'll make a big show of offering the same deal to us, and we'll vote to take it. Quietly, we'll drop every other issue they object to. And in the back of our minds we'll wonder if the whole strike could have been avoided.
That's what they want us to think. But you know what, I'll be fine with that as long as we get what we really came for: A fair deal.
#6: It's only called courage if you're willing to sacrifice and stand tall while facing the very real possibility of failure.