Whedon On WGA Strike (2)

November 26th, 2007

Joss Whedon answers the New York Times, who try to characterize striking writers as latte-sipping dandies.


[ The easiest tactic is for people to paint writers as namby pamby arty scarfy posers, because it’s what most people think even when we’re not striking. Writing is largely not considered work. Art in general is not considered work. Work is a thing you physically labor at, or at the very least, hate. Art is fun. (And Hollywood writers are overpaid, scarf-wearing dainties.) It’s an easy argument to make. And a hard one to dispute. ]

There is much more, and it is all wise.

Love, C.

6 Responses to “Whedon On WGA Strike (2)”

  1. Kate Elliotton 26 Nov 2007 at 10:09 pm

    I had the oddest interchange yesterday, while on an outrigger canoe off Waikiki, which revealed to me an entire universe of assumption about authors that I hadn’t truly understood existed, but which this most excellent Whedon letter reminded me of.

    Them: So what do you do?
    Me: I’m a writer.
    Them (actually excited): Wow! I want to be a writer, but I have to work. I’m a property manager. I do write articles for the newsletter.
    Me: Then you’re a writer.
    Them: Really? I would really love to be a writer, but I don’t have enough money to be a writer.
    Me: (rendered speechless)
    Them: So do you belong to the yacht club?
    Me: Uh. (thinking of how unlikely it is that a working writer can afford to belong to a yacht club much less own a yacht). No.

  2. Madeleine Robinson 27 Nov 2007 at 11:53 am

    I think every working writer has similar stories: I was once applying for a job and, as I had, at that time, my published work listed on my resume, the interviewer kindly turned me down because “as soon as you have a New York Times bestseller you’ll leave, and we can’t have that kind of turnover.”

    Insert expression of stunned awe here.

    It’s gratifying when people think that what I do for a living is cool, since I know all the grubby, unglamorous stuff that goes into it. But, as Joss wisely says, it’s work.

    For a society that supports enormous numbers of books on “doing what you love and the money will follow” and all that jazz, we’re remarkably puritanical about actually doing work you love. There are all sorts of reasons to become a doctor, but the good doctors must, I think, love some aspect of the work in addition to loving the money and societal validation that comes with it. Maybe they like helping people. Maybe the actual work itself excites them and is enjoyable. During my brief period working at an investment bank, I found that the financial guys who were most successful were not the ones who were there for the trappings of success, but for whom the shifting of money, the manipulation of markets and the numbers themselves had an excitement and romance. Enjoying what you do doesn’t mean you’re not working, or that you shouldn’t be compensated for the work.

  3. Kevin Andrew Murphyon 27 Nov 2007 at 2:40 pm

    I’m reminded of the familial conversations about getting a “real job.” As opposed to, I dunno, the fake one?

    Writing may not be paying me enough, but it has put gas in my tank and food on my table. And the nub of what Whedon’s getting to is that no worker is getting paid properly for their labor, and this is rampant through the arts.

    I remember one of the saddest things I ever saw (and the most shameful for Hollywood as a whole) was watching an interview with Dick York shortly before his death. Dick York, the guy who was in the first film version of Inherit the Wind and later for years played Darren on Bewitched before being replaced by Dick Sargent because Dick York had had a crippling back injury on a set years before and finally the pain didn’t let him keep up with the acting schedule.

    His home at the end? A rather sad little mobile home. And while I’m not saying actors or writers or anyone else have to live in a palaces, it’s shameful that one of the stars of a hit show that ran for umpteen seasons and is still in reruns breathed his last such meager surroundings.

  4. Constance Ashon 30 Nov 2007 at 9:08 pm

    Yes, indeed.

    Thanks for that story, Kate. Big Envy here for your Big Kahuna — er, Big Canoe — experience!

    Love, C.

  5. Elaine Freion 01 Dec 2007 at 2:24 pm

    If writing was easy everyone would be writers, instead of everyone (like Canoe Boy) saying they want to be writers.

    Additionally, if writing is so easy why, when I used to tutor writing (among other things) on the college level, did I always hear from students that they hated writing because “it’s too hard”?

  6. Nebon 01 Dec 2007 at 11:26 pm

    Apparently Joss Whedon can not say anything without making smile and/or shout “Amen!”.

    Kate (hi, you): your canoe conversation is a classic. Doesn’t it just boggle your mind how so many people do…not…listen…to what you are saying? At all? Writing, like so many “artsy” jobs, is hard. It is lucrative for a blessed few, and even those few still work their butts off doing it. I lost my illusion of the glamour of the arts long, long ago. I still love performing, and writing, but it’s a JOB and involves WORK. We don’t live in a Disney fairyland as I guess some folks think we do.

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