Why I support the strike

It’s not like I watch cable TV directly. But I support the current strike by the Hollywood Writers. Why?

There’s a metric ass-load of crap produced out there. On TV and in the theaters. I’ve gone to one crappy movie too much and regretted not buying a book on philosophy with the movie instead. I’ve sat through way too many crappy sitcoms and other TV shows when I was younger. I’ve watched with dismay as “Reality TV” shows cropped up and people ate them up without thinking. Because not a lot of thinking goes into it all.

But a lot of thinking goes into hit shows such as House, M.D., Battlestar Galactica, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report and many others that I watch in other ways without buying a $50/month cable package. (Netflix, internet broadcasts, etc) Truly excellent shows have intelligent writers who create something original and entertaining, which producers and actors and editors translate into a visual masterpiece. What happens when you mess with this interplay?
Take “Bee Movie,” for example. I haven’t seen it, and even as a Beekeeper I don’t plan to. Not while the strike is on, and probably not until the thing is on DVD. Why? Because no great writer came up with an idea for an original movie about bees and pitched it to a producer. No, Jerry Seinfeld jokes around over dinner that there should be a movie about bees called “Bee Movie.” Hah. Hah. Ha-. Um, at 50% rotten, Bee Movie probably didn’t get very far off the ground in terms of plot and biological accuracy without good writers.

Reality TV shows are an excuse not to hire writers, which cost (and should cost) money. Celebrity-written movies and crap like Some Thing’s Gotta Give (should have bought a book…) and the first X-men have got to go. X-men 2 had writers, which saved the series. Stop the madness!

Stop watching movies in the theater. Stop watching TV. Voice your support for the writers, as they a re only getting paid for a fraction of the media forms that their writing is used for. As companies expand into internet-based content, the writers are not getting paid proportional to the profits of the media that they support. I want The Daily Show back. I want to watch more Colbert Report. But if the TV and film industry want to provide crap like reality TV shows to get out of paying the writers that make what we watch.

I support the writer’s strike because when I take the time to sit down and watch something, I want it to be good. I want it to be entertaining. I want my SciFi realistic and humanistic. (Star Trek get your act together or you’re history. Battlestar Galactica – doing fine.) I want my comedy truly funny and memorable. I want movies about ants and bees to make something that is biologically accurate and thus explores something new – not just a human story with bee-shaped characters. I want some bright people writing – and bright people know how much they’re worth.

I keep complaining about movies about ants (and now bees), and how they can do something better. One of my lab (and office) mates, Annie, told me I should write it. Maybe I will. Someday.

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Karl Haro von Mogel

Karl Haro von Mogel serves as BFI’s Director of Science and Media and as Co-Executive Editor of the Biofortified Blog. He has a PhD in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics from UW-Madison with a minor in Life Sciences Communication. He is currently a Postdoctoral Scholar researching citrus genetics at UC Riverside.