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Why Is Entertainment Labor Unrest So Freaking Boring?

This photo is a metaphor.Photo: Getty Images

On both coasts, labor unrest threatens to shut down nearly the entire entertainment business. In Hollywood, the Writers Guild is posturing in advance of its October 31 contract deadline, decreeing that in the event of a strike, Guild members will be restricted from writing not only for live-action films and TV shows but also for new media and animation, which aren’t technically included in the Guild’s jurisdiction.

Meanwhile, in New York, talks broke down this week between the League of American Theaters and Producers and the stagehands’ union, meaning that many Broadway theaters might go dark any day now if a lockout is enforced. (Notably, several shows that don’t use union stagehands employ union stagehands under separate contracts* would presumably see their grosses increase, including The Ritz, Mauritius, and Mary Poppins. Young Frankenstein is also exempt from the lockout, although we don’t think its grosses could possibly increase.)

The daily flood of stories about Hollywood and Broadway labor unrest are depressing, not because we worry about our entertainment product being threatened — we’re sure that, in the long run, everyone will agree to make way too much money for subpar films, TV shows, and plays — but because the stories are so boring. Someone makes an offer. Someone else makes a counteroffer. The two sides say vaguely threatening things about each other. Lather, rinse, repeat. It’s gotten so that bloggers like us need to resort to ludicrously overblown graphics — like Hollywood burning, above, or Defamer’s wondrous Hollywood Strikewatch logo — just to make these stories even a tiny bit appealing.

But these people are entertainers! Couldn’t they do something better with their moments in the spotlight? Couldn’t those writers out in Hollywood knock out a couple of epically funny press releases mocking their opponents across the table? Couldn’t the stagehands in New York work all night to build an enormous gallows spanning 45th Street and hang the producers in effigy? Can’t someone, oh someone, make labor unrest fun again?

*Update: The stagehands union angrily informs us that all these shows use union stagehands, just under other agreements, so they are not part of this negotiation cycle. Even the mistakes we make reporting about labor unrest are boring!

WGA Sets Strike Rules [Variety]
Local One Responds to League of American Theatres and Producers Offer [Playbill]

Why Is Entertainment Labor Unrest So Freaking Boring?