The Masochist

By By Ryan Shattuck

By Ryan Shattuck

FADE IN:

EXT. A LAWN, TWO YEARS AGO — MORNING

The year is 2005, the month is November, the mood is somber. The two victims descend from the plane, unaware of the fates already awaiting their brethren. Upon being removed from their cages, strange men lift the two into the air, so that they might be exhibited before the crowd for judgment.

The Man approaches, a man known to employ torture and haphazardly send innocent men to their deaths. He laughs in the face of danger and scoffs in the presence of Habeas Corpus. Altering his face into an ironic contortion of compassion and discomfort, President George Bush pardons the lives of Marshmallow and Yam, exiling them to live the rest of their lives at Disneyland.

CUT TO:

RYAN SHATTUCK (V.O.)

Some people argue that Bush shows no forgiveness — I argue that maybe such people would be easier to forgive if they tried being Scooter Libby and/or a turkey.

FADE OUT:

Now, I don’t belong to the Writers Guild of America — and not just because my membership application has been turned down the same number of times as there are days in the week (i.e. 10). My screenwriting skills fall somewhere between my “performing neurosurgery” skills and my “going through menstruation” skills.

In moments like this, I realize why it’s best to stick to what I know — writing loosely researched, unfounded, biased columns — and leave such scriptwriting to the professionals.

For those who haven’t been following the recent writers’ strike because of the fact that they’ve been too busy watching reruns (and without even a sense of irony), the Writers Guild of America has been on strike since Nov. 5 against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. Although the strike concerns a number of issues, it primarily revolves around that of DVD residuals and “new media.”

The “new media” in this case is that uncharted wilderness referred to as, and excuse me for mispronouncing this, the “Internet.” In short, the rest of the world has graduated from MySpace to Facebook, and yet Hollywood executives and producers are still trying to figure out how the tubes of the Internet work and, of course, how to turn it into a profitable sequel.

It’s been interesting to observe how America has, for the most part, supported the striking writers. It’s easy to hate Hollywood — and the square states do so with more zesty fervor than do the jagged states — and yet many talk about the strike as if it were of David versus Goliath proportions. It’s easy to see why though, for most people prefer that Little Hollywood triumphs over Big Hollywood. It’s why people always cheer when Danny DeVito kills Arnold Schwarzenegger in the battle scene in “Twins.”

Let’s wait just a red hot imagine-a-future-without-a-proper- “Scrubs”-series-finale minute!

Do the writers actually have a point? Isn’t this still Hollywood — where one group of Hollywood people is fighting another group of Hollywood people, in an attempt to take money from the second group of Hollywood people? Does this incestuous relationship and exchanging of hands have any reflection on real life?

On one hand, I wholeheartedly support the striking writers and, having always secretly wanted to be a TV writer myself, genuinely feel empathetic. On the other hand, however, I find myself more removed and detached from the entire situation than the last five years in the life of Barbara Walters.

When striking writer Zoe Green, who recently sold her first episode, said, “This will be very tough for me personally, but I 100 percent support our cause. I’m going to be struggling on $6,000 until this ends,” I found myself battling back the tears. It pains me to know that poor Zoe is only getting by on what would pay a year’s worth of my rent. When one considers that writers only earn 0.3 percent of DVD residuals, a $100 million dollars in DVD sales is still $300,000 in a writer’s pocket — more than double the income of the average American. We want the writers to win — and if there’s a television-loving God, they will — and yet, it might do us some good to look at the writers’ strike with some actual perspective.

I love television, I love writing, and I love comedy. In this time of year, though, especially with Thanksgiving being around the corner, I think it might do me some good to take just one day and take a break from “What can I do to get more money?” and instead remember what I have to be thankful for.

I also hear a great Thanksgiving family special is on television. Or at least it would be, if the WGA would let me finish “The Pardon of Marshmallow and Yam.”

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