The WGA strike enters its second month with screenwriters still working the picket lines and strike-related Web videos continuing to pour forth. They range from handsome propaganda to subamateurish spoofing to clammy bids for the attention of the digital universe. Surfing from one to the next on YouTube is to enter a realm of quasi-entertainment with constantly shifting terms. You glide from flourishes of corny opportunism to polished displays of showbiz heaviosity to random fanboy freakouts. Perhaps the only trait that the videos share is how they all run about 20 percent too long.
This is true even of the best. The reigning champ in the rueful satire division is “Videologblog: Writers Strike,” produced by writers from the Colbert Report. It finds a fictional entertainment executive posting, under the screen name hungvp158, his wounded response to the writers’ walkout. “It’s about time that those of us who own movie studios and TV networks have our voices heard,” he whines, telephone headset in one ear, CNBC beaming in the background, self-righteousness aglow. He’s something of a mewling younger cousin to Roger A. Trevanti, the abusive studio boss invented by Saturday Night Live’s Fred Armisen. Neither of them see much of a future in the Webisodes and downloads that the writers are intent on profiting from. “It is impossible to make money off the Internet,” hungvp158 says. “If you don’t believe me, Google it.” In what would seem to be a swipe at NBC’s Ben Silverman, an executive known to hire out jungle cats when entertaining at home, the producer further laments that, due to the toughness of the economic times, he will have to get his son a “nonendangered birthday tiger” this year.
A subgenre of strike videos exists merely to amuse insiders and flatter wannabes. How else to explain “Writer Boi WGA“? That one’s a hip-hop video, shot partly on Los Angeles picket lines, in which a dude sporting an Adidas sweatsuit and gold chains drops rhymes and names with equal vigor, name-checking the show runners of Grey’sAnatomy and Desperate Housewives and boasting of the writers’ resolve: “We down for the fight, mano a mano/ We ain’t fadin’ to black like the last Soprano.”
You too can get in on the act, and if you’re a Battlestar Galactica junkie, perhaps you already have. A recent series of clips finds young ladies appealing to their fellow BG fans to take up the writers’ causes by having pencils sent to media moguls. For reasons unexplained—and, as far as I’m concerned, best left inexplicable—each of the women is wearing a bath towel while she makes her pitch. There’s nothing lewd or foxy in the presentation. It’s merely cute and odd—one further quirk of the entertainment-industrial complex talking back at itself.