Tuesday was a lovely day here in LA – aren’t they all? –
perfect for getting together with a few close friends and strolling down the
Which is what I did with 7500 of my closest friends as the
Writers Guild of America held a solidarity march down Hollywood Boulevard with
members of the other major Hollywood unions.
When I say these are some of my closest friends that isn’t
just hyperbole. We actually were very close, packed much closer together than at the average cocktail party, so as we marched together our physical mirror
neurons got a very nice massage. And chanting tuned us up vocally and
emotionally as well. My favorite, “Fade In, Fade Out, What’s in between? You
figure it out!”, is perhaps to writerly to be totally effective, but the
standby, “On Strike! Shut it down! Hollywood is a Union Town!” was rousing and
visceral. Particularly when the guy next you is a Teamster and the gal on the
other side is a member of the Health Workers Union it makes you want to smile.
Of course it does. Unity feels damned good.
But this wasn’t just a feel good get together. In the story
struggle this strike represents the WGA has taken a consciously asymmetric
approach to storytelling. They are using the power of rumors – “viral marketing”
– to get their message out. It is smart strategy. Research at Max Planck
Institute is showing that gossip trumps written data when it comes to making
decisions. You can read about that research here. Nothing spreads gossip faster than hanging
out on a street corner with your friends.
When that street is Hollywood Boulevard there is an element
of show biz magic to it as well. The last surviving Munchkins from the 1938
classic “Wizard of Oz” were being honored with their own star on the Walk of Fame
a few hours before the WGA march and when asked by the press responded that
they supported the strike.
That’s right. The WGA received the full backing and support
of the Lollipop Guild! In the dream world that is Hollywood that is a really