Strike Me In

05/25/2011 12:15 pm ET
  • Jon Robin Baitz Playwright, screenwriter, creator of ABC's Brothers & Sisters

A writer I love and respect has reminded me that whatever my nuanced views of the world and it's attenuated relationship to Hollywood I expressed in my prior post - my timing sucks, and my points are beside the point. For now. And I hear that.

He has also reminded me that the coverage of the Guild position has been less than sympathetic, mostly because the people who report the news also work for some of the same giant media corporations that produce movies.

It is not, I was reminded, 'Chinatown, Jake'. It is David and Goliath. And that stopped me dead.
I realized that my experience in Hollywood has made me cynical to the point of having a blind spot, and that it's effect on me could be read as "a plague on both your houses".

No, I would hate to be misunderstood or to give any aid and comfort to the producers. I would hate for people who don't know enough about the issues to take my ambivalence as expressed in Strike Me Out -- as anything other than the tortured musings of the deeply franchised who are pretending to be disenfranchised.

The position taken by the producers, or rather the large corporations for whom the producers labor, is nothing less than a poison toad. The world has changed, and the future of what we read and see - and how we see it - are what's at stake in the strike called by the WGA.

The powerful men (mostly, also old-guard, wildly rich, and moonlight-white), the CEO's, etc, who have coyly called for a three-year study of the profitability of new media before addressing the issue with the Guild, are also breathlessly telling their shareholders that the profits are tangible and glorious. I know these men, my father having been a v.p. at a Fortune 500 company for twenty some years, before being put out to pasture. I saw the numb march towards profits first hand, in this case, in the Third World and South Africa. I know about the ways the powerful will remove what is moral or ethical from most discussions of how business is done. I know that corporate culture has always been the higher church in this country. In this world. And more than that, and what I failed to write in my prior post, is this: I also know that however skeptical I may be of the rich and privileged in LA, they ain't the issue.

The fact is, this fight is very much about the future of our relationship to giant corporations. As individuals, as artists, as workers, as citizens. It is not a fight between one group of unlikable shallow and out of touch people on the coast and another. It is a fight for the value of work itself in a changing world.

I lived in South Africa as a teenager, during the apartheid era, and it has colored the way I see things, sometimes in ways that it should not. I see self-justification and blindness sometimes in what actually is idealism. I see self-promotion (which is easy to do in show biz) where in fact, the self-promotion may very well be wrapped up in actions that are for the greater good.

In my prior post, I said that there were other fights I would rather be having. It now seems to me that having this fight, the one at hand - standing up to the blind and eternally ravenous forces of the new corporate media giants and their shining armies -- that's the fight I got, and I am proud to fight it.

Read more thoughts about the strike on Huffington Post's writers' strike opinion page