We have the writers on one side, who feel they are being left out of the whole new technology game. We have the studios on the other side, who feel they are being asked to pay for something when no money is being made.
Yes, I know it’s almost impossible to boil down the entire Writers Guild of America strike in two sentences, but that’s basically how the people who are paying attention to all of this are seeing it. And don’t misread what I am writing here … I’m not talking about everyone, or even general television audiences. I’m talking about select audiences — people like you — who are even paying half a mind to what’s going on with the strike.
Believe it or not, most television viewers are going about their day, and maybe had heard some rumblings about a strike somewhere, but they really haven’t thought about how (or even if) it will affect them, or anything that they watch. It’s like the calm before the storm that we get here in the Southeastern United States: The Weather Channel says a storm is coming, and while I can see the hint of clouds on the horizon, there’s nothing really making me run for the hills.
The studios really aren’t going to kick it into high gear until something very important happens: public outcry. Right now, there isn’t much of one, except a very vocal minority who can see far enough ahead to know the ramifications of a continued strike. But I think it’s safe to say that it won’t be that way much longer.
Our friend Michael Ausiello over at TV Guide has been keeping a list of the number of episodes left for our favorite shows. If you have a chance to click on that link in the last sentence, please do so. But in terms of genre shows, here is the rundown:
“Bionic Woman” has no episodes left. “Chuck” has two episodes left. “Heroes” is done. “Jericho” has all seven episodes of its abbreviated run. “Lost” has all eight of its episodes. “Pushing Daisies” is all done. “Smallville” has seven episodes to go. “Supernatural” has between three and five left. Shows not on Ausiello’s list includes a few more episodes of “Moonlight” on CBS, at least 10 episodes of “Battlestar Galactica,” and an unaffected “Stargate: Atlantis,” which is still being written and produced since it’s almost completely produced out of Canada, which is not a part of this current strike.
So if anyone wants to know when this strike is going to really end, take a look at those numbers above. Once the networks run out of new scripted program, and viewers are hammered with reruns, it’s safe to say that an outcry will build, and both sides will be forced to hammer out some kind of compromise.
It’s hard for me to imagine that with all the energy I spent being upset that “Jericho” was only getting a half-dozen episodes, it would end up with about as many episodes as most other television shows out there. Everyone knew there was a possibility of a strike, but I do believe the studios were in denial about if the WGA would go through with its first work stoppage in 20 years.
But this isn’t a game on “Survivor.” No one gets immunity, and unfortunately, we can’t vote out the people on either side that might be gumming up the works.
This also isn’t really about the mass viewing audience, either. Thousands of people in the film and television industry our out of work, and others who are working will begin to feel the effects soon. While we all might believe these people have huge safes full of cash they swim around in like Scrooge McDuck, they don’t. They have families to support and bills to pay, and they depend on project after project to keep themselves afloat.
But the public can play a role in helping both sides come to a resolution, and that’s to continue to support those on the picket lines, continue to support those giving up a paycheck for what they feel is right. And when our friends and family finally come around to the realization there is a strike going on, help educate them on what this is all about. Both sides have very legitimate positions, and the trick will try to find some common middle ground.
For this strike to end, however, it will probably need a big kick in the behind — the kick only a massive amount of pissed off viewers hungering for fresh entertainment on their color picture boxes can give.
I know a lot of you were waiting for this, but here are the winners of the premiere issue of Supernatural Magazine from Titan Publishing: Donna Ackles of Richardson, Texas; Pamela Talkovsky of Brooklyn, N.Y.; Gary Tabar of Waynesville, N.C.; Michael Meara, Springfield, Mass.; and Heather Miller, Joliet, Ill. Congratulations to all of our winners!
Let’s read some letters from the good ol’ mailbag:
I have been reading Airlock Alpha for quite some time now. I am German, and so I don’t get every English saying/expression correctly, so I beg your pardon for that.
I think it might be a common saying, but the short sentence, “Have a great week and don’t be a stranger” caught me off-guard. It disturbed me in some way, especially to read it on your site, and I want to tell you why.
I think most people in the world are sheep. They are all sheep being glad to have a house, a family, a car and a job. And as long as nothing threatens this “natural” order, everything is OK. They like structure, they like order and they like morals and such. And though many people are different, in this is the basis for biases.
As soon as someone questions the “natural” order of society and their morals, they got expelled, just by thinking so.
I like to be a stranger because I don’t want to be a sheep in a big mass. Even if 99.9 percent of all alien sightings are fakes, I shover that it would mean that 0.1 percent are not fakes, and what that means.
I am a stranger, I am different. And I must admit that I always liked science-fiction and fantasy because many “others/strangers” can be found there (as can many subculture sheep who just eat what they get served without understanding or really feeling it), so I was kind of surprised to read, “Have a nice week, and don’t be a stranger.”
— Chris, Germany
As many of you who read my column know, I almost always edit down letters and clean up grammar and such. For Chris, I didn’t have to clean up too much on this, but I did cut it down considerably, but not because what he said wasn’t important or moving. It actually was. It was one of the best letters I think I have received in response to this column all year, and I may post his whole letter on the message boards this weekend so you can read it.
It’s amazing how a phrase, “don’t be a stranger,” meant to convey how important you are and how you will be missed if you stopped coming around, could be looked at in an entirely different perspective, to the point where someone pours their heart out in probably a very beautiful way. To be honest, I never thought about the line very much. I knew I wanted to have a sign off with the column, and I didn’t think it through. I wrote my first column, and it was a simple and quick way to convey my thoughts about how much I hope you, as the reader, keep coming back for more.
But Chris does give all of us something to think about, and it makes staying up late on Thursday nights to write this column each week worth it. A lot.
Send your letters to email@example.com, and if you’re lucky, they may end up right here.
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Have a great week, and don’t be a stranger!
Michael Hinman, a 22-time winner of the British lottery and heir to three Nigerian fortunes, is the founder and site coordinator for Airlock Alpha, writing out of Tampa, Fla. He can be reached at email@example.com