November 16, 2007
How Arnold can end the strike
The Writer's Strike has been on for over a week now, and it seems no closer to resolution than when it started. Both the writers and studios are trading barbs and recriminations in the press, and neither side seems particularly anxious to restart negotiations. Clearly, there is only one man who can bring this strike to an end.
As Governor of California and a major Hollywood player, nobody is more qualified to end this strike than Arnold Schwarzenegger. On paper, at least. In reality, The Terminator has no actual experience dealing with unions, work stoppages, or economic catastrophes (aside from the catastrophes he personally initiated).
What Schwarzenegger lacks in real-world experience, however, he more than makes up for with his extensive *fictional* experience. A veteran of countless films, Arnold knows a thing or two about conflict resolution. Let's take a moment to consider how the lessons Arnold learned as an actor might translate to effective means of ending this strike, once and for all.
For instance: The strike was initiated by the Writers Guild of America East, the president of which is a man named Michael Winship. Schwarzenegger could travel back in time (totally nude, naturally) to when Winship had yet to be born... and slaughter Winship's pregnant mother. With a machine gun. Then, in a sort of "sequel" to this plan, Arnold could travel back in time again... this time crushing the skull of WGA West president Patric Verrone -- back when he was just a twelve year old boy. With both Writers Guild presidents Terminated, history will unfold rather differently. By 2007 writers will pen scripts for minimum wage, without any complaints -- lest they suffer the wrath of the film studios' army of killer cyborgs.
Though this plan is undeniably AWESOME, it could be hampered by a lack of available time travel technology. Sure, scientists can split the atom and cure gonorrhea, but apparently they can't figure out how to accomplish the simple task of sending a 6'2" Austrian man back in time. Pathetic. However, this is not a problem -- big Ahl's got a few other tricks up his sleeve. He could go undercover as a kindergarten teacher, kidnap the son of AMPTP President, Nick Counter. If Mr. Schwarzenegger sent Mr. Counter one of his child's fingers in the mail every day the strike continued, I think we'd see an end to this thing sooner rather than later. If this is too brutal, Arnold could always Get His Ass To Mars and lead a mutant resistance against the AMPTP. Sure, this plan may require that Arnold take some vicious testicular abuse from Sharon Stone, but it's totally worth it!
If all else fails, I suppose the Governator could don a loin cloth, pick up a HUGE sword and start impaling every writer and/or producer he can find. Facing the very real possibility of brutal decapitation, I'd guess both parties would be much more open to settling this thing.
November 13, 2007
Music Review: Soulja Boy
As a professional pop culture commentator, I feel it's critical for me to keep on top of popular music. I need to know what regular people are listening to: what songs rock Joe Sixpack's iPod; which tunes John Q. Public bumps in his ride. What hot tracks Danny Dumbass blasts from his clock radio while cutting himself with a rusty pocketknife and huffing Lemon Pledge.
The best way to keep abreast of trends in popular music is to simply listen to the radio. Easy, right? NOT FOR ME! You see, the radio in my car has been broken for a long time. Last time my car radio worked, they were still playing CREED on the radio (a fact that's not unrelated to how my radio ended up in a non-functional state). Technically, I suppose it would be possible to listen to the radio outside of my automobile. In my house, for example. But, the thing is, I have a *TV* in my house. And I really can't bring myself to listen to radio when I could be watching TV. It's like drinking skim milk when you could be drinking Rich Chocolatey Ovaltine!
But, just yesterday, I got a new car-radio. AND I LISTENED TO IT!!! Seems like a lot of things have changed in pop music since the last time I listened. For instance: they used to play many different songs on the radio. Now they play only one.
Soulja Boy's hit single is a revolution in hiphop minimalism. In fact, there's so little to "Crank Dat", there's a 68% chance that the song doesn't actually exist. And yet, for a tune that probably doesn't exist, Crank Dat is EVERYWHERE: The internet, the radio, internet radio, radio internet myspace youtube internet radio. The song features repetitive lyrics which describe an even more repetitive dance. Also there's something about Superman, Robocop, and "Super-Soaking". Oh, and hoes. Can't forget the hoes. Here's a visual depiction of the song:
The dance involves hopping on one foot, then leaning forward on one foot. Then doing both of those things again. And again. It's sort of like the Hokey Pokey, but for kids who are too retarded to distinguish between their right and left feet.
Music sure has come a long way. And if Soulja Boy's "Crank Dat" is any indication, pop music has come so far, it has plunged through the brilliant and sublime, looping back around to something I can only describe as Slightly Organized Guttural Noise.
Well... Slightly Organized Guttural Noise with lots of references to hoes. Can't forget the hoes.
November 06, 2007
We Don't Need No Stinking Writers
It's been a while since my last update. Regular readers can probably guess why. The looming conflict between Hollywood studios and the Writers' Guild of America has put me in a state of emotional turmoil. In the past, I've stated that TV is the only thing that makes life worth living. And now, despite my most earnest prayers AND sacrificial blood offerings, all of the TV writers have gone on strike. As a result, all of my favorite late night comedy shows have shut down, while all the prime-time dramas and comedies continue production... but only until they run out of scripts. Once that happens, all of TV will be a post-apocalyptic wasteland of reruns and hastily assembled reality shows. Also, I think there could be rampaging mutants.
I'm not altogether sure why the Writers Guild called a strike. I think it has something to do with writers insisting that they "get paid" for their work, particularly in regard to DVD sales and internet distribution. Myself... I just don't see what their problem is. This "internet" thing is clearly a fad, and DVDs are just a stop-gap measure until everyone goes back to sweet, sweet VHS.
Clearly these writers haven't read all those really clever arguments that explain why writers -- and artists in general -- should work for free. True, those clever arguments are almost exclusively offered by lawyers and academics (who get paid quite nicely for *their* labor). But this is irrelevant. The main point is that Culture is supposed to be Free. Not Free as in speech; not even Free as in 100% syphilis-free. No, my friends, Culture should be Free as in Beer. Although, as of posting this, beer still isn't free. You still have to pay for it. But I assume that the Free Culture Movement is working on some way I can download Guinness online, via a peer-to-beer file sharing network.
As a society, our only hope is that the sooper-geniuses who run television networks can figure out SOME way of keeping quality TV alive while this writers strike' works itself out. In the spirit of Free Beer Culture, I've come up with a few ideas. I humbly offer them for no charge!
Improvisation: This one is SO OBVIOUS, it hardly seems worth bringing up. If you don't have anyone writing scripts, just get actors to make shit up! I realize that this will work better for some shows than for others. Plot-heavy programs like Heroes and Prison Break could go completely off the rails if the actors were forced to improvise. Imagine, for a moment, that you were an actor on FOX's Prison Break -- and the director told you to improv your dialogue. If it were me, I'd be like "Dood, this prison sucks crap -- I'm totally breaking out of this bitch!" Then I'd walk off camera, which would be problematic since we'd still have about 45 minutes of show to fill. However, there are a number of shows where actors could easily BS their way through. The cast of How I Met Your Mother doesn't need scripts. All they need to do is be really annoying while not at all funny every time someone yells "ACTION!" How hard is that?
Recycling: NBC has been big into promoting environmental issues in the last few weeks. Why not put their Intellectual Property where their mouth is by recycling previously used scripts from some of their longer running series? The show ER has been on TV for what, 250 years? Just grab a script from one of the early seasons, and reshoot it with your current cast. There might be some continuity issues -- dead characters coming back to life and whatnot -- but viewers are quite forgiving about these things. Also, consider a show like Law and Order. Every episode is exactly the same -- so much so that I suspect they were ALREADY reusing old scripts before the writers walked.
Scabs: If they want to get those lazy TV writers back on the job, studios would be smart to hire non-union labor. Americans might change their tune on the issue of illegal immigration if the networks hire cheap mexican screenwriters to take over our nation's most popular shows. Personally, I've always felt that American TV had a lot to learn from Spanish language networks like Telemundo. For instance: how to dress up a fat guy like a school girl for MAXIMUM HILARITY. Also how to improve any scene through the inclusion of skanky girls, gratuitous cleavage and lingering booty shots. Or maybe studios should take a cue from the IT industry and outsource all the scriptwriting to India. I know I'd enjoy seeing a Bollywood style dance number break out in the middle of an episode of CSI: Miami!
Ugh. Who am I trying to kid. This strike is a catastrophe. Really, the only solution is to collapse into an alcohol induced stupor until it's over. All I ask is that is nobody schedule my intervention until AFTER the writers are back at work.