Saturday, November 17, 2007

After Blackberry Picketing

In the era of ubiquitous communication, news came via Blackberry to a crowd at a dinner party last night that the parties involved in the ongoing strike of movie and television writers would be going to be going back to the negotiating table. Those present cheered at the announcement.

Cocktail party conversation included considerable discussion about the digital rhetoric of the guild. I've talked about the role of blogging in the discourses of this labor action before, but it's worth looking at the comments sections of The Artful Writer to see the bitchy banter about credits, IMDB pages, and people's associated rights to speak. Variety has produced Scribe Vibe, and Nikki Finke's Deadline Hollywood has also been attracting more of a readership as a result of the work stoppage. Strike chatter has dominated John August's Blog, and a prostitution analogy in Josh Friedman's I find your lack of faith disturbing circulated in the industry blogosphere. My gripe with some of their blogging has to do with the rhetorical conventions of the Internet, since I think that writers for the big and small screen sometimes have trouble writing for the computer screen, in that they don't "chunk" information and often neglect to use hyperlinks.

As I'm said before, the YouTube rhetoric of the striking rhetoric has been very successful, as they have capitalized on the presence and participation of actors, show runners, and presidential candidates in the picket lines. Not all the WGA leadership necessarily comes off well on camera, and I'm sorry they don't seem to have the equivalent of a James Kotecki to advise them. But they do seem to understand how to re-purpose news footage YouTube style, as they do here in Voices of Uncertainty, and now even the first pro-WGA video mash-ups are starting to appear.

Of course, many on the web are calling for a radically new paradigm not envisioned by either side. See Rebuilding Hollywood in Silicon Valley's Image by Marc Andreessen for perhaps the most prominent example of this argument for having both those above the line and those below the line look to the organizational model of 21st century technology firms.

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