apropos of nothing

Vulture Grades the Striking Writers’ Op-eds

Photo: Getty Images

The Writers Guild may be on strike, but that hasn’t stopped some of its most high-profile members from, well, writing — many have penned editorials defending the WGA’s position. Of course, not every TV scribe is cut out for the op-ed page. After the jump, we grade some of the good ones, the not-so-good ones, and the one by Jay Leno.

Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, at Whedonesque

“And as work? Well, in the first place, it IS fun. When it’s going well, it’s the most fun I can imagine having. (Tim Minear might dispute that.) And when it’s not going well, it’s often not going well in the company of a bunch of funny, thoughtful people. So how is that work? You got no muscles to show for it (yes, the brain is a muscle, but if you show it to people it’s usually because part of your skull has been torn off and that doesn’t impress the ladies – unless the ladies are ZOMBIES! Where did this paragraph go?) Writing is enjoyable and ephemeral. And it’s hard work.”

Whedon challenges the notion that writing is an easy job in this post on his semi-official fan site but wisely cuts his incisive commentary with the sort of geeky jokes and self-deprecating humor that made him a cult hero. Grade: A

Larry Doyle, novelist and former writer for the Simpsons, in The New Yorker

“We are not in this for the money. Management would have you believe that we all make $200,000 a year. That’s funny. We wouldn’t even eat something that cost $200,000, unless it was actually $200,000, drizzled with truffle oil, the way Silvio makes it. Yum.”

Even when on strike, the ex-Simpsons writer can’t help but to satirize his fellow WGA members’ supposedly effete lifestyles and earnest pleas for greater profit participation. His “Shouts & Murmurs” contribution is low on rhetoric, but overflowing with snarky wit. Grade: A-

Bryan Tucker, writer for Saturday Night Live in the New York Post

“Taking a quick glance around our strike line, you’d see lots of Elvis Costello glasses and an embarrassingly high ratio of fedoras. These were clearly people who spent most of their days staring at a computer screen.”

Tucker’s commentary is mainly composed of jokes made at the expense of himself and his fellow writers, but, sadly, hardly any of them are funny. We’re going to assume that he’s one of the guys responsible for 40 percent of any given episode of SNL. Grade: C-

Jay Leno, host of the Tonight Show in the London Times

“The writers have picket lines all around Hollywood and on Monday I went down on my motorcycle, delivering doughnuts to the writers … my fear being that the writers would continue to walk in circles on the picket line, and end up getting into shape. Then they would switch to fruit bars and tofu, no longer eat doughnuts, regain their self-esteem and no longer be funny. One thing comedy writers need is that writer’s body that one only gets from eating snacks all the time.”

Leno is quick to emphasize how lost and unfunny he feels without his writing staff, to the point that he relates a secondhand anecdote involving George Clooney and cat poop in a desperate attempt to get a laugh out of the reporter recording his dictation. Grade: C

Damon Lindelof, co-creator and executive producer of Lost, in the New York Times

“Change always provokes fear, but I’d once believed that the death of our beloved television would unify all those affected, talent and studios, creators and suits. We’re all afraid and we’d all be afraid together. Instead we find ourselves so deeply divided.”

No real jokes here. The Lost co-creator mostly just forecasts the end of television as we know it. Still, when he’s on point, his digressions into wild speculation sort of make him sound like an obsessive Lost fan. Grade: B
—Matthew Perpetua

Related: His Moment of Zen [NYM]

Vulture Grades the Striking Writers’ Op-eds