Monday, November 05, 2007

The Writing's On the Sign

Day One of the writer's strike leads to an interesting economic question. Not if writer's deserve a cut of new media revenue. Or how long a company should holdout before serious negotiations begin (though the strike does dispel the myth that firms care only about short-term profits and won't shoulder a huge expense for a long-term gain). No, the question is why are the slogans so uncreative?

Presumably, the WGA would be interested in conveying their side of the argument for the national news media, a capacity that increases as the writing improves. Pithy slogans, especially concerning the topic at hand, would certainly serve the organization better than simply "On Strike" paired with a cheesy lightning bolt/pen (note the illustration's better than the writing). The three signs pictured here seem to be making up the vast majority of them, mass-produced by the Guild.

Thus the puzzle. It only takes one person to make a good slogan that thousands can use. With over 10,000 in its membership, why didn't some of them come up with something better? They are writers, after all; this should be second nature, at least to a few. And it's not like they didn't know the strike was coming; the picture of the man in the clearly written shirt is a member passing out material three days ago. Even if you claim that they just have a bunch of generic signs "just in case" it begs the question, why aren't the generic signs interesting? You'd think their potential for reuse would make them more likely to be pithy, not less.

Strikes are costly, not just for the studios but for the writers. It's in their best interest to sway public support to their side in order to encourage their employers to fold sooner. Perhaps this is evidence that the studios really are paying them more than they contribute. Maybe they don't deserve any new media revenue.


Jason Br. said...

Are you suggesting they use a synonym for the word "strike"? Would that as effectively convey the meaning?

More fundamentally, do you really think it did not occur to them to put something else on the signs? Economists usually presume, as a first approximation, that people know what they are doing. As an economist, I daresay your first inclination should be to assume the signs are a considered -- some would go far as to say "efficient" or "optimal" -- choice.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure what jason br. says it true but it certainly would be more entertaining for the rest of us if the signs were more original. However, this is work they wouldn't be paid for.

David said...

Of course it would occur to them to put something on the signs. That's why it's a puzzle: why wouldn't they? One would think there's a reason for it, but then that begs the question, what's the reason? Why is this outcome efficient?

Jacob said...

It could be a subtle message. The dull, uninteresting slogans could be a way of saying "look forward to several months of TV as bland as our protest signs."

Then again, if I was on strike from my job as a comedy writer, the last thing I'd feel like doing is writing comedic slogans.

Jenny said...

What's really silly about this is that TV and movie writers make their living selling scripts that will NEVER be made into movies!!! Studios just buy them only to keep competitors from getting the rights. Most of these people probably haven't had a singe script actually made.