Friday, February 15, 2008

Harlan Ellison is a Douchebag

This colorful diatribe was originally posted on a *private* Writers Guild Members-Only bbs. And now it's on AINT-IT-OBNOXIOUS. For all the public to digest.

It's probably obvious from the text, but Ellison is an angry old crank who's adopted a fairly reductive appraisal of the new contract. And now it's fodder for the troglodytes on the fucking AICN Talk Back Boards, who just feed on any negativity that they can get their toothless maws upon.

You want to know one of the things I particularly loathe in people. Their inability to see long-term. You would think an ancient like Ellison, who suffered the '88 writers strike, would appreciate the bigger picture. But just because he was there doesn't mean that his vision isn't muddied by his own bitterness.

I was once in a performance group with a menagerie of some of the most obnoxious personalities on the planet. People blew up left and right, projected their mental issues onto other people, defended each other's poor behavior and managed to create this dreadful cesspool of dysfunction that resembled some grotesque mockery of a family.

But they kept that bullshit behind-the-scenes. A person sitting in the audience wouldn't be subjected to all the personal garbage that went on behind-the-scenes. (They'd be subjected to a pretty shitty show, to be fair, but that's another blog entry...)

People are too indulgent with old fucks like Ellison. He's old. He's been around. He's got a body of work. They smile and applaud him for his refreshing bluntness. BULLSHIT.

The idea that we could have gotten everything we'd wanted if we'd stayed out longer? Bullshit. Warmongering. Maybe if we stay in Iraq for 100 more years, we'll establish some order.

Terry George has used the term "nuclear winter" to describe what the effect would be if we shot down the current tentative contract we've got on the table. That seems the most likely scenario, IMHO. Timewise, we'd lose the leverage of the Oscars and the TV season: with those flushed, there would be no incentive for the studios to go back to negotiations with us for a fucking while. If the militants like Ellison had it their way, the strike would last a lot longer than the '88 strike.

How long, then? A cool year? Unlike 1988, there are a lot more entertainment options today beyond movies and scripted television. I would hate to imagine what the industry would've evolved into... because I'm pretty sure it would've evolved away from scripts.

Some might argue that a little public rant by Ellison is healthy for the community. And I'm all for the voice of dissent. The emperor's naked and all that noise. And amidst the cautious aftermath of spinning, it might be good to highlight all the things that we DIDN'T accomplish. The guild represents such a diverse swath of careers, it was inevitable that not all writers would benefit equally. That many writers would be hurt a lot worse than others.

But Ellison's directed his vitriol back at his fellow writers. He's the raving lunatic that people edge away from in a subway car. And at the end of his argument, he hides behind the claim that he's just "a sad old man". Which is supposed to give him some free fucking pass to say the most absurdly divisive shit.

But he's more than that. He's a high-profile writer whose words carry a lot more weight than many others, by dint of his illustrious career. He sends the message to the studios: "You've won. We are cowardly and divided. Feel free to use this against us to an even greater degree in three years."


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