Earlier this week I ventured that supporting digital culture means supporting the writers. I’ve received a number of emails from people in many industries backing up my core point.
But what’s been interesting is to follow the side of the entertainment industry calling the strike “stupid”. One of those voices is none other than Michael Eisner:
“I see stupid strikes, and I see less stupid strikes. I see smart strikes,” Eisner said in the keynote, which was structured as a conversation with Neil P. Cavuto, senior vice president and managing editor of Fox Business News. “This is a stupid strike.”
And why, pray tell does Eisner make this claim?
At the moment, Eisner said, digital media is too new to be profitable. “The studios are there because they don’t want to be in the transportation business and telling everybody that they’re in the train business,” he said. “They want to be in the entertainment business, and God forbid they should forget yet another distribution track.” In other words, they don’t want to get left behind.
He said it would take about three years for Web video and other forms of digital distribution to gain enough of a foothold to be profitable–and that’s when the Writer’s Guild would have a case to make. “What I’m saying is for a current writer, for six thousand people to give up today’s money for a nonexistent piece today is stupid,” Eisner asserted. “They can do it in three years. They shouldn’t be doing it now.” Right now, the profit from digital content is “a piece of a nonexistent flow, which won’t be nonexistent, but it will be nonexistent for the next three years.”
This entirely misses the point the strike (setting updated, modern day terms on the work writers are doing in a digital distribution and DVD world), and takes a classic “Head of Studio” direction.
So where is the real problem, according to Eisner? Steve Jobs).
Eisner, a well-known critic of Apple (whose CEO, Steve Jobs, is a powerful member of Disney’s board of directors), suggested that the profits may be getting sucked up elsewhere. The studios “make deals with Steve Jobs, who takes them to the cleaners. They make all these kinds of things, and who’s making money? Apple! They should get a piece of Apple. If I was a union, I’d be striking up wherever he is.”
Let the record reflect that I’ve bought more digital entertainment content (music + video) via iTunes in the last year than the previous 3 (or more) combined.