Dean Clough

September 8, 2023

Portico Darwin: Writers & Actors Should Settle Right Now


2 Minute Read
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It is a Friday, a day when many look forward to a couple of days of not working.  Except for those that aren't working in the first place. 

You know:  People like the ever-vacationing Hunter Deuce, me, and all of the writers and actors in Hollywood and elsewhere that are presently on strike.  It is that last group on which I'd like to shine a spotlight.  Yes, I just wrote that, and I am glad I did.

The Writers Guild of America should ask the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers for their best and final offer, and sign it yesterday. 

Because presently, those on strike are living in a fantasy world. 

I do not doubt their concerns for their own professional and personal welfare.  I don't blame them for worrying that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will replace many.  And I'm with you that many media companies make a ton of money, and that their executives fly private, in cashmere clothing. 

However, I do doubt their awareness of history, because we've seen this movie before.  There, I did it again.

I say writers (and actors) are entitled to exactly zero (apart from a $25/hour minimum wage and free basic healthcare, but that's a different post).  But instead, their asks reek of entitlement and mostly revolve around pretending the entire TV and movie industry is not being turned upside down by the Internet and streaming.  And soon, by AI.

Or in other words:  Change.  Folks, it may be my favorite show, but this is over.

But do you know what?  They're not the first industry forced to face a fact of life that nothing stays the same.   

Car Manufacturing
The American automobile industry was responsible for much of the middle-class wealth in this country (for better or worse) during the 20th century.  After we decimated Japan and Germany in World War II, it was only out of charity that we rebuilt their economies, via The Marshall Plan.

Partially as a result and for decades, the American automobile union worker had it made.  There was no/little automation, no competition, and no globalization.  Until there was, taking the form of little Volkswagens, Datsuns, and Toyotas.   A joke at first, they soon ate the industry's lunch, by being both cheaper and better.

But few in management or labor saw it coming.

Steel Manufacturing
See above, Car Manufacturing.

Textile Manufacturing
See above, Steel Manufacturing.

It was not offshoring that destroyed the newspaper business in the United States, but it was technology, specifically in the form of The Internet.  We all know the story:  Newspapers relied upon classified and display advertising to fund their reporting and operations, and it worked that way for decades.   Indeed, the business was good enough that it created a fair number of generationally wealthy American families. 

And then Craigslist and Amazon and Google arrived, and it was all over.

But few in management or labor saw it coming.

So if we're to accept capitalism's many benefits, we must also accept its downsides - and I am looking at you, Hollywood.  And again, today's writers and actors are no more or less deserving of a middle-class job than yesterday's boilermakers or weavers.

And there is a larger point to be made, and it makes the writers' position even more myopic.  You may have noticed I repeated the phrase "but few in management or labor saw it coming."  This is different:  EVERYBODY sees the handwriting on the wall that the salad days of the cable bundle and movie theaters are good and truly over. 

I am no defender of fat-cat media companies, but people like Bob Iger (Disney) and Brian Roberts (Comcast) know the old days are finished and are saying it out loud.  The writers see the wealth generated by the previous model, want it to continue, and want a bigger piece.  It's not going to happen, and that's why they should settle the strike immediately, and ride into the industry's sunset.

That's the last bad pun.  Have a great weekend.


From "The Nobody Cares" department:  My first with no errors!

Puzzle #78

Connections is a new-ish game from The New York Times, and I think it complements Wordle quite nicely.

Thank you for reading this newsletter.  


We're going to our first rave tomorrow night - no kidding.
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But no, it's not the Diamond Certified Thievery Corporation - too obvious.  Instead, it's co-headliner and the chill Kruder & Dorfmeister, with their contribution to the very cool DJ-KiCKS series.  You may be surprised how much you enjoy this disc, regardless of your musical tastes.

About Dean Clough