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February 15, 2008

Quislings, Turncoats, Hacks and Cowards

Harlan Ellison offers the reserved comment for which he is known. His current topic is the recent vote to end the WGA strike (lifted in its entirety from Warren Ellis). Classic.



Creds: got here in 1962, written for just about everybody, won the Writers Guild Award four times for solo work, sat on the WGAw Board twice, worked on negotiating committees, and was out on the picket lines with my NICK COUNTER SLEEPS WITH THE FISHE$$$ sign. You may have heard my name. I am a Union guy, I am a Guild guy, I am loyal. I fuckin’ LOVE the Guild.

And I voted NO on accepting this deal.

My reasons are good, and they are plentiful; Patric Verrone will be saddened by what I am about to say; long-time friends will shake their heads; but this I say without equivocation…

THEY BEAT US LIKE A YELLOW DOG. IT IS A SHIT DEAL. We finally got a timorous generation that has never had to strike, to get their asses out there, and we had to put up with the usual cowardly spineless babbling horse’s asses who kept mumbling “lessgo bac’ta work” over and over, as if it would make them one iota a better writer. But after months on the line, and them finally bouncing that pus-sucking dipthong Nick Counter, we rushed headlong into a shabby, scabrous, underfed shovelfulla shit clutched to the affections of toss-in-the-towel summer soldiers trembling before the Awe of the Alliance.

My Guild did what it did in 1988. It trembled and sold us out. It gave away the EXACT co-terminus expiration date with SAG for some bullshit short-line substitute; it got us no more control of our words; it sneak-abandoned the animator and reality beanfield hands before anyone even forced it on them; it made nice so no one would think we were meanies; it let the Alliance play us like the village idiot. The WGAw folded like a Texaco Road Map from back in the day.

And I am ashamed of this Guild, as I was when Shavelson was the prexy, and we wasted our efforts and lost out on technology that we had to strike for THIS time. 17 days of streaming tv!!!????? Geezus, you bleating wimps, why not just turn over your old granny for gang-rape?

You deserve all the opprobrium you get. While this nutty festschrift of demented pleasure at being allowed to go back to work in the rice paddy is filling your cowardly hearts with joy and relief that the grips and the staff at the Ivy and street sweepers won’t be saying nasty shit behind your back, remember this:

You are their bitches. They outslugged you, outthought you, outmaneuvered you; and in the end you ripped off your pants, painted yer asses blue, and said yes sir, may I have another.

Please excuse my temerity. I’m just a sad old man who has fallen among Quislings, Turncoats, Hacks and Cowards.

I must go now to whoops. My gorge has become buoyant.

Respectfully, Yr. Pal, Harlan Ellison

Posted by Ghost of a flea at February 15, 2008 06:23 AM


I am okay with white-collar unions being beaten like yellow dogs and folding like Texaco maps. Especially when their product is a lot less exciting and compelling than filming the average Joe. (I am thinking of fare like Deadliest Catch and Lobster Wars, where the goings-on have real-life consequences... not faux-drama like Survivor or The Apprentice where failures can slink back to their day jobs.)

Posted by: Chris Taylor [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 15, 2008 03:25 PM

The result bothers me for at least two reasons. These are the continuing diminution of the writer's role in this process. Unless Hitchcock decided to make the director the film's author - and we can hardly object in his case - the writer had top billing as the originator of the story. If Hollywood product is not what it was in its Golden Age the outcome of the strike is only to compound the problem; doubly so in the case of reality television where an author (supposedly) plays no role at all.

My other objection is the continuing second class second of writers working in animation. I do not know the historical justification for denying these writers the same residuals/credit/etc. that go to writers of, for example, soap opera or science fiction (though I am looking at Disney with an arched eyebrow) but it seems unfair to me.

Posted by: Ghost of a flea [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 15, 2008 05:23 PM