19 November 2007

What will drive them to a book?

If you keep up with entertainment news at all, you're probably aware of the Writers' Guild of America strike which began two weeks ago. Ironically I was on the verge of starting a television blog with my friend D. when the writers started striking, but make no mistake, I'm not mad at them. I think they're completely justified, but I won't bore you with my (warmed-over and third-hand) analysis. Suffice to say, both parties are headed back to the negotiating room next week to talk about things like new-media residuals, and I think that's a good thing.

Since the mainstream media is hardly covering the strike at all, I get most of my news from blogs like Deadline Hollywood Daily (run by L.A. Weekly columnist Nikki Finke) and United Hollywood (pro-strike site). The other day, someone posted an item that in an earlier version of myself would have made me very happy: A TV fan going cold-turkey on iTunes downloads and streaming Internet video suggested forming an online classic-book club for fans who, due to the impending end of new episodes in the 2007-2008 season, suddenly have a lot of time on their hands. (And considering that according to NPR the average American watches 29 hours of TV a week, that amount of time may also constitute "a crapload.")

Now, I love anything that gets people reading, and I don't have to go on my soapbox to explain why. (After all, the 3.7 of you who read this are already readers anyway.) But I can't delight in the strike simply because it might force some former viewers to seek out alternate forms of entertainment, because I am not anti-television like I once was. I love "The Office," eagerly await "Ugly Betty" and am delighted by "The Daily Show" on a weekly basis. And I don't think the strike will mean most people watch less television; they'll either watch what's still on (don't forget, media juggernaut "American Idol" starts in January when the midseason replacements are supposed to be starting) or they'll turn to Netflix or Blockbuster to get their scripted-show fix. Still, it's nice to imagine a world where a country-wide turn toward books would at least get the Writers' Guild and the producers' union back to the table--where books could constitute such a threat to the status quo.

If you need some TV-related writing to tide you over during the strike, I recommend Sally Koslow's LITTLE PINK SLIPS, a dark comedy in which a network star wreaks havoc on the plans and dreams of a magazine editor; Marshall McLuhan's UNDERSTANDING MEDIA, a classic analytic work which discusses the way people respond to various forms of content delivery; and Tova Mirvis' THE LADIES' AUXILIARY, about a community of Orthodox Jews in the South who don't watch TV. (I guess I cheated with that last one, but hey, if you want to be truly scared out of your habits, reread BRAVE NEW WORLD or A CLOCKWORK ORANGE.)

1 comment:

Emily said...

apparently post-delurking, i comment all the time. that's what the blogosphere is all about, right?

anyway: funny that no one is covering the strike, because here (I'm in LA with my fam for turkey day) it's on every channel, all the time, including the crappy nightly news channels and such. have you seen the office writers' youtube video stuff? or kelly kapoor (er, mindy kaling) also has written about it on her blog. which i'm about to post about on my blog. chit chat bloggings.