Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Daily Show is Back -- Thank God

Jon Stewart went on a tear for his first show back in the midst of the Writers' Strike. Stewart, along with Stephen Colbert, is the best friend the writers could ever hope for, clarifying the issues and slicing the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) and the corporations it represents. Both Stewart and Colbert featured experts on labor and unions. If nothing else, this strike is educating Americans about the value of unions in allowing workers to stand up to large corporations to assert what are beginning to seem like fundamental rights.

Stewart: I don't believe that the AMPTP understands the struggle that it's in, and I don't think they understand the blowback that's going to happen.
Link (click on the Writers' Strike segment)

Very soon, film and television artists will simply cut free from their corporate masters and run their own shows, much the way musicians are doing right now. Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, D.W. Griffith and Charlie Chaplin did this in 1919 when they formed United Artists, and others have periodically tried the same tactic, often successfully. But the fundamental paradigm of big media has remained constant. Production and distribution have been so expensive that only large corporations have been able to afford them.

That era is coming to a close. Digital media democratizes every step of the process, from production to distribution. The days of scarcity, of a small number of giant corporations controlling the means of production, are over. How appalling that artists and creators largely don't own or control their own work! How'd we ever get into this situation?

The future of media is the Internet, and everyone knows it. The media giants are fighting to hold onto their digital distribution cash while simultaneously claiming they're not making any money on the Internet ($1 billion lawsuits against YouTube notwithstanding).

This strike is a big story. A very, very big story. This is the first Internet-era strike, the first time artists have been able to take their case to the public through all the new media channels, the ones not controlled by their adversaries. Hell, the Golden Globes had to be cancelled, because the producers couldn't get any actors to cross the picket lines and show up.

A line has been drawn in the sand. The AMPTP is fighting a losing battle. Watch out for the blowback.

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