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"Oh no. Is that dragon thing behind me?"
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December 15 2007

Smallville fans out-penciling Whedon fans, so far. In the Pencils2Moguls campaign, where fans are urged to buy boxes of pencils to be sent to the six studios making up the AMPTP as a symbolic display for the writers' strike, Smallville fans are edging out Whedon fans in boxes sold.

Obviously this can't be borne. We're also just ahead of "Lost," and way ahead of everyone else, but still. Remember, a random drawing of Whedon fans will get a call from Joss: "I'm warning you, I'm gonna call late, and probably drunk, and maybe cry. It's gonna be so cool." There are also incentives from "Eureka," "Jericho," "Battlestar Galactica," and more.

*Digs out credit card*
We'll see about that.

Ha! And people give that show so much crap. I guess their fans are really devoted. And I guess Lost can "suck it"(as Kathy Griffith would say) - we're totally (or slightly) kicking their butts. Why isn't BSG on the list? Did they just not get enough pencils to be represented on the chart?

[ edited by kerfuffle on 2007-12-14 23:00 ]
Lost doesn't seem to be doing all that badly. They aren't all that far behind us. Looks to me like the BSG pencil count is being divided between various actors on the show, which is probably why the show itself isn't mentioned.
I still think it would have been a lot more personal and meaningful if fans just sent belly lint. But, oh well. Pencils it is.
I have to ask seeing as the Pencil campaign got rejected at the gates, is there any point carrying this campaign on? Maybe the fandoms could give money directly to those affected by the writers' strike, like the tech boys, make up artists, support crew etc. Cause I would imagine its going to be a pretty crappy Christmas for those guys and their families through no fault of their own.
They rejected the pencils? Crap. It does seem silly to keep buying pencils if that's the case. A fan fund is a good idea, Simon. That money would be put to better use in the pockets of the out of work crews and staff than in a box of pencils, anyway.
Yeah, i'm not sending anymore I don't think. Money to charities/pizza fund from now on. Has the union solidarity fund got a proper "Paypal" style donations link up yet ?

Wow, they're slapping us all over the place though - quick, break out the Kryptonite or distract them with an awkward conversation between Clark and Lana ;).

Do they count all Whedonish entrys under his name though or are those only the pencils actually donated in the name of "Joss Whedon" or some variant thereof ? Cos that's "only" about 3,500 boxes, seems kinda low for all of the Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse and Joss fans to have chucked in the pot.
I think Simon has a point. The Pencil campaign has probably made all the impact it is going to make now and the message it was meant to deliver has been sent. Whether it reached the ears of any of the studios is beside the point. It's going to take more than pencils to make them give a shit about what anyone who supports the writers thinks.

I'd say that creating a fund to help all those who are out of work because of the strike is more of a priority now. The studios seem happy to use these people as a way of showing how uncaring the writers are for striking in the first place. If the fans were shown to be trying to help ease the problem for all those out of work it would also remove one of the points that the studios are using to attack the writers position.
For what it's worth, the money from the pencils goes to the Union Solidarity Fund, which was created to help non-WGA members affected by the strike. And the pencils themselves will go to charities.
I have to ask seeing as the Pencil campaign got rejected at the gates, is there any point carrying this campaign on?

In terms of publicity, being rejected is better than being accepted. Confrontation, fans and showrunners being turned away etc is more likely to make the news.

On whether it's had all the effect it will ever have, possibly. The pizza fund, especialy as the weather turns cold, has the advantage of getting publicity and feeding the actual picketers.

But pushing that basket of pencils right alongside Joss will stay in my memory for some time. Sorry we didn't get arrested and become martyrs, Joss.

Edit to add: I've seen some people say there's no point in donating the pencils to charity since pouring them into those baskets would have broken the lead and made them useless. The baskets were only a fraction, maybe one fifth, of the pencils there. The vast majority are still safe in their boxes and ready for use.

[ edited by zz9 on 2007-12-14 23:44 ]
I don't see what difference it makes whether the moguls take delivery of the pencils or not. The point is exerting fan pressure on them, to let them know that we want the writers to be treated fairly. The point was never to make sure that the moguls got a lot of pencils, but to make sure that they know we stand with the writers. The point was also getting the writers favorable publicity, which also strengthens their hands in negotiations. I'm typing "point" a lot, but I am
Now. Is Joss getting credit for everyone who puts in Dollhouse, Firefly, Buffy, Angel, etc?
I'm pretty sure it's any money leftover from pencils that goes to the Union Solidarity Fund. I seem to remember wording suggesting that the pencils cost "around" $1 and that any extra from the costs for each box (and also any money given for pencils in the event that the strike ends before it is used) would go to the fund.

So Simon's point is quite valid, I think. This looks to be a long-term fight, so the tactics chosen warrants some reconsideration. How did the peanuts campaign work? If the goal is to make a symblic statement, to demonstrate to the execs just how many of us are in support of the writers in a visible way, do rejected pencil deliveries accomplish that? I'm not sure what is the best way to proceed.
Go with pizzas or donations of money.

This score-keeping smacks of pencil-envy.
Exactly Sunfire. We don't have their resources, which means we have to improvise, adapt, overcome (hey, catchy, someone should use that) and fight "Not by strength, by guile". And remember "Who Dares Wins" (think that's covered the bases, no wait, "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds", there, job done).

As Wash might put it, "Victory through superior wiryness" ;).

(phew, got right to the end without once comparing the writers to guerilla fighters, I think we all know how that could be taken out of context ... Damn)
Once the strike is successfully completed, I hope Jane Espenson pitches Joss a story about a Dollhouse client with a Jane Austen fantasy.

[ edited by Pointy on 2007-12-15 00:27 ]
At least we know we're #2. Quick, Joss: Get James Marsters to make a phone call to the winner! That'd win it for us. ;)

At some point soon I would like to see this campaign end, and be replaced by a campaign where the money directly goes to the BTL fund, but at the same time creates more awareness at a mainstream level. I don't see Pencils2Moguls as a realistic long-term thing. If the purpose is to show the moguls the viewers side with the writers, and get publicity out of it, then at some point it's no longer news.

[ edited by ElectricSpaceGirl on 2007-12-15 00:33 ]
Hi Guys. Jeffrey here from UnitedHollywood. I've ben reading your comments and wanted to let you know the Pencils2mediaMoguls campaign is still going strong and will continue for a short time more. We still have four more CEO's to deliver to, on the east coast this time and the mode of delivery will be slightly different than here on the west coast.

The first attempted delivery of pencils made the local and national news and Joss and Ron Moore were at center stage. All of you have done a great job and I hope you know we appreciate all of your support.

I hope to have a new fan-based campaign set and ready for everyone by next week (and this next one won't cost a thing).

I've spoken to several folks who worked on the Disney lot and was informed that we made a big splash. Lots of dissension over how the refusal to except the pencils was handled. And there's more talk of how the police interceded on behalf of Universal when we tried to make a delivery there. We're threatened with arrest if we didn't leave the property.

You guys are the best fans I've come across yet. Keep up the good work.

Jeffrey
Speaking as the main pizza deliverer for fans4writers, and a participant in buying pencils and pencil delivery day for pencils2moguls, I think both are worthy. I don't think it matters at all that the studios didn't accept the pencils. There was more press for that event than anything else fans have been involved with in the strike. And it was a benchmark thing. The first one was a half million pencils. The next will presumably be for the one million mark, in a month or so.

The pencils weren't wasted. I don't know where anybody got that idea. Being poured into bins certainly didn't break them. I picked some up off the ground that got spilled and maybe even stepped on and they looked fine and went back in the bins and boxes. Which all went back on the truck. Which will all still go to the education non-profits that are their beneficiaries, while any excess money goes to the Solidarity Fund. Where's the bad?

I do think maybe the WGA should try to be more transparent about the Solidarity Fund. I've gotten the impression that there's a lot of money going into it already, and it's not perishing for lack of pencil money.

edited having read Jeffrey's post

Damn, no more pencil deliveries for me? But I think East Coast is a good idea. There's more top brass there.

[ edited by dreamlogic on 2007-12-15 01:06 ]
Ok, I bought more than 6 boxes (10, actually). So... Joss is my common law wife now, right? So do we get to make with the wild, crazy sex? Or is he just going to nag me and tell me that I need to go out and get a job? Honestly, being nagged by Joss sounds kind of cool. It would be the most witty nagging ever. Nag me, Joss! Nag me!
Jeffrey, glad to hear of the effect the pencils had, sorry to hear the police threatening you at Universal, which I got to too late to see.
In fairness to the cops the ones at the Johnny Carson Park where we started were cool and even stopped traffic to let us push the baskets across the road.
I got me 10 more. Nine Josses and a Jane.
I think in Joss' country (Jossonia) "common law" means "non-", Aloha Joe. The language is tricky though, it could also mean "bagpipe thieving", depending on vowel length.

Thanks for the update jeffreyunited, it's interesting (and cool) to hear it got people talking within the organisations in question too. And having further deliveries elsewhere means the writers can attempt a delivery again without having the charge of purely playing the martyr levelled against them (which I think is a danger if they try to deliver to the same people that refused them previously).

One thing though, if the object is to buy as many pencils as possible, how can there be money leftover ? Wouldn't any "leftover" money just be used to, y'know, buy more pencils ? Or is it anything exceeding e.g. a million pencils or similar ?

(seems it's not a problem anyway dreamlogic but I think people were worried the "lead" inside the pencils was broken, which obviously wouldn't show on the outside)
I demand a recount!!!

On ME DAY we sold almost 1500 boxes of pencils (which is almost 18,000 pencils, did they count those for Joss, huh?????
I hate double posting :P

[ edited by RavenU on 2007-12-15 01:35 ]
(seems it's not a problem anyway dreamlogic but I think people were worried the "lead" inside the pencils was broken, which obviously wouldn't show on the outside)

What kind of flimsy, frou-frou pencils do you foreign people have, anyway? These were, good, solid American pencils (though made from environmentally sound components). If the lead is broken, you can tell because the wood is also bent or cracked. They were fine.
It's actually a security feature. British pencil leads are designed to break when dropped so that ... terrorists can't use them to make ... terror. Your American pencils clearly hate freedom. I bet they're Osama's favourite brand. Fact.
I wish I could order more pencils, but Paypal won't allow me to get the money back that was stolen from my account (almost $1700), and I can't use my account. Furthermore, I tried opening another account, but even with cash in it, they would not let me send a payment without attaching my account to a credit card or my bank account - and I'll never do that again!

So is there another way to send money for pencils?
I did it without opening a PayPal account. There's a credit card option.
Some of us are fans of both, and not just because of Brainiac.
Just checked. All of the Pencils bought in support of Mutant Enemy have already been added into the total count under Joss's name.
Oh, no! My bagpipes!
Hmmm, seems the Smallville people heard about your drive to take the number one position from them. Check this out.

Found the following at http://www.kryptonsite.com/


Let's Stay In The Lead With Pencils!

The fans of Joss Whedon are catching up to us in the race for sending pencils to the media moguls.

We can't let them take first place, can we?

Send some more pencils to the moguls in case of Smallville and show them that Superman can beat the Browncoats and vampire slayers! Pencil donations could get you a phone call from Michael Rosenbaum, Erica Durance, or Laura Vandervoort!

(Note to said Browncoats and vampire slayers: This is all in good fun. We like Buffy, Angel, Astonishing X-Men, Runaways, and Firefly/Serenity too!)
We don't even have a show on the air. That makes us the awesomest.

ETA Speaking perfectly objectively.

[ edited by Pointy on 2007-12-15 03:49 ]
And have we included the count on the names of ALL shows, writers, actors and the many other miscellaneous entries that come under the banner of the Joss-verse. (I'm looking at YOU, poster who sent in 'Buffy-N-Angel4Eva'. ;-) )

Not to get into a fandom fight, but I say that we are too inventive a crowd round here to stick to one single show name. So THERE!
I don't care at all if Smallville beats us in pencils. I think you might have gotten the wrong idea, jeffreyunited.
The fans of Joss Whedon are catching up to us in the race for sending pencils to the media moguls.

We can't let them take first place, can we?

Send some more pencils to the moguls in case of Smallville and show them that Superman can beat the Browncoats and vampire slayers! Pencil donations could get you a phone call from Michael Rosenbaum, Erica Durance, or Laura Vandervoort!

(Note to said Browncoats and vampire slayers: This is all in good fun. We like Buffy, Angel, Astonishing X-Men, Runaways, and Firefly/Serenity too!)


I love good-hearted competition. This reminds me of the time when Farscapers and Whedon fans were battling it out in some online "best moment in sci-fi" poll or something like that. There was a lot of back and forth jesting, but in the end, the Whedonesquers and Scapers who took part earned a lot of respect from each other. I think a couple of us decided to start watching Farscape because of how nice and fun the fans were.
People, people, remember what's truly important in all of this. It's not about who "wins" or "loses."

It's about whose is bigger.

[ edited by Pointy on 2007-12-15 03:50 ]
Buffy is waaaay cooler than that silly Clark Kent.
:P
People, people, remember what's truly important in all of this. It's not about who "wins" or "loses."

It's about whose is bigger.


Whose pencil, right?
I also hear those Smallville fans smell funny and eat babies.
Well of course she is cooler. She doesn't have to wear a spandex outfit under her clothes. That has got to be hot.
I hear they eat funny and smell babies.
I love good-hearted competition. This reminds me of the time when Farscapers and Whedon fans were battling it out in some online "best moment in sci-fi" poll or something like that. There was a lot of back and forth jesting, but in the end, the Whedonesquers and Scapers who took part earned a lot of respect from each other. I think a couple of us decided to start watching Farscape because of how nice and fun the fans were.

Yeah, But I think "from each other" was an essential thing.
We had James Marsters first. We had him nekkid.
Uh-oh. The cylon lovers are gaining on us. I'm tempted to buy a box for BSG on behalf of Ron Moore's totally pimp hair.

I just bought 5 boxes (Go team Whedon). So there.
FYI, if Joss does call he better be drunk. I expect slurring and a plea for bail money.

[ edited by kerfuffle on 2007-12-15 04:24 ]
KYLE: Cartman, just stay out of it.
STAN: Cartman, trust me. We don't want any part in this one.

Um, kerfluffle - how did you know we don't have any hot water in our apartment? Not that I eat babies.

*edited to admit I did eat the fingers off my Barbies, but I was much younger then. While Tom Welling wasn't born yet, I was already a Superman fan.

[ edited by redeem147 on 2007-12-15 20:48 ]
Watched the tape of Thursday Smallville tonight... cause Firefly wasn't on Sci-Fi. Wonderful special effect. Clark running superfast through a room full of people. And then the end didn't see that coming.

Firefly on now. Everybody is eating at the table now.
Public Relations!
That Blade Runner Final Cut DVD looks/sounds good.

Reavers! Stay Calm.

[ edited by Anonymous1 on 2007-12-15 06:23 ]
Not slamming Smallville or anything (well, not out right) but to have its "writers" (and those who watch surely recall the countless original, smart and witty plots and lines they bring to the table - the special effects ain't all that special either *makes kiddy sniff*) beat out all those amazing ones out there? I demand a recount! *smacks fist onto keyboard... then spends a few seconds deleting the gibberish that appears on the screen* I'm having a Firefly marathon with my sis and am appalled (at this survey- on the other hand, I'm flabbergasted at the awesomeness that is Firefly all over again). Although, someone had explained it better than me, posing valid reasoning, motioning that it was the "actor incentives" that brought on the SV pencil support. *shrug* That might be it, or that Lex Luthor has finally put his daddy's stolen blood money to honest use, supporting the writers that keep him- bald. *giggle*

Still sucks though. *runs off the buy pencils* I really hope those that do the count realize that Joss Whedon, Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse and various listed writers of the Verse pertain to the same thing *makes sure she's more precise this time* Surprised House isn't on the list for being a hit running show. Their writers kick Smallville out of the galaxy!

I double the call for James Marsters! He has yummy voice. I recently found his "A lie is like a cheap bottle of wine..." at the end of ASH's CD. It was shiney! :D
I agree on the call for JM but if he calls Smallville fans too, it could get dicey... I would consider buying some for them just to up my chances ;) (the man has an amazing voice, sometimes I would forget to pay attention to the story in the Dresden Files just listening to his voice).

What I really want to know is if they are counting the pencils bought in honor of ME day towards Whedonites. I'd really like to know how they are tracking these things, since I believe I put Dolhouse in some cases and Anything by Joss in others in addition to the ME Day ones...

Just a thought. And honestly all in good fun. I'm just glad I can find any way to help.
Not slamming Smallville or anything (well, not out right) but to have its "writers" beat out all those amazing ones out there? I demand a recount!

You mean Smallville writers like ex-BtVS/AtS writer Steven S. DeKnight? ;-)

It's hard to get really worked up about other shows sending more pencils when their writers and actors are ours as well.
Okay, I admit it. I record and watch Smallville. I'm not proud but there it is. And you don't even want to know about my secret addiction to The Hills.
I watched the entire first season of The Hills. It's methadone for 90210 addiction.

ETA: Buffy's the cure.

[ edited by Pointy on 2007-12-15 20:34 ]
Oh Pointy, everybody smells babies!

I love waking up here in the morning and reading the funny posts, and I really want to thank JeffreyUnited for his post and his information (CAN they really arrest people who are trying to politely deliver pencils?). Personally I'm up for any demonstration of fan support that people can devise!
Steven S. DeKnight is not a Smallville writer, we had him first!! *whines* "Clark, there is no such thing as vampires" *looks around* What... Who said that?!
I think in the spirit of solidarity we should all just join together and crush them.

[ edited by Pointy on 2007-12-15 23:16 ]
We're doing pretty good considering there hasn't been an actual Whedon series on in like what? 5 years? I'd like to see how many boxes of pencils those shows would get if their fans were asked to buy them five years after the show ended.
Rarely do I actually post here more than two sentences at a time. Anyhow things change. The pencil strategy, which despite criticism from certain quarters, did actually give the fandom something to do (and that is important). Especially for those who do not live in the Los Angeles area and indeed the United States. Rather than stare at each other's navels, somebody came around and said "hey pencils" and we went "hmmm yes let's do this". Cause we're irrational and we're passionate and we like the writers. They're not like us but we like them. They're talented, they write amazingly well and give us hours of entertainment. And guess what? Despite all these years after Buffy, Angel and Firefly being off the air, we still owe the writers. And we want to help them cause we see them as our friends.

But I'm slightly apprehensive of organisations trying to work with the fandom. Cause let's be honest in the past it has come back to bite us on the ass. We willingly jumped into bed with Universal to promote Serenity. And after the movie didn't do so well, we ranted and raved at Universal about they didn't promote the movie in the mainstream media. And then later on they screwed us on the whole "fair use" of movie images. Other guys and groups came along trying to get the fandom to do stuff for them. Fireflyseason2.com, Fanlib all wanted to use the fandom to get their stuff promoted.

And come to think of it, I really need a writer to properly finish off the third act of this post but my thoughts are starting to meander and "Come On Pilgrim" can only inspire me so much so much. The fandom rivalry thing is cute and fun but it can only go on for so long before it gets boring. So after the pencils thing ends, then what? At the end of the day I want to see the writers get a fair deal but I'm very concerned about the "friendly fire" casualties arising from this strike. So if anyone can come up with a strategy that will help the writers' cause and at the same time help those who are financially crippled from studios shutting productions down, I'd love to hear about it.
Jane Espenson had been concerned in her last blog that the writers appeared to be enjoying the strike: fiddling while LA burns (thousands of people being laid off or losing businesses that depend upon the industry). It upsets me that anyone would blame the writers. No writer has laid anyone off work, they don't have that power. One hundred percent of the people who have been laid off were let go by the studios and networks who then joke about how much more money they will make off the cheaper programming of game shows and reality shows.

I feel very strongly that writers should not give up their legal right to their copyrights without strong assurances that they will be paid for that (residuals are the equivalent of royalties). I realize this has all been said before, but I feel that they cannot give in and I would rather see the studio system destroyed forever than for them to give in.

Of course we are all concerned for the people whose lives are being damaged by the studios and networks hard line, all of the people laid off and/or with businesses closing down, as well as the writers themselves. But as far as I can see the only real way to fix this is to keep the pressure on the studios and the networks. Either they give in and fix the situation, or everything is going to have to change drastically for everyone in the future (or I could be wrong and there is a third way out of this).

[ edited by embers on 2007-12-16 00:42 ]
Simon, as to your final act, helping the writers and those who are in financial hardship, could we do something like an internet garage sale or something? I know next to nothing about Ebay, but I'm thinking of a site where fans would put up various crafts and whatnot and people all over the world would go to this wonderful place to buy the awesome, well-valued goods, and proceeds would go to those in financial straits.

I'm thinking "what do local people do to raise funds?" And then I'm thinking the net makes local broad. Can some "local" ideas be put to use on a grander scale?

I'd buy even a pencil doodle from Jane Espenson. I might by a collage poster of all the ME writers, that'd go proudly on my wall.

We're too crafty by half not to come up with something that shows support and helps out and garners recognition. Point me in the direction where I can shop at the writer's website (clearly I think this idea has some kind of merit).

...and the AMPTP could sell mud. For the bricks. For their slaves to assemble into something useful.
Simon, you're asking for the impossible. Gosh, I wish I knew an answer. Requires much more talking.

[ edited by Madhatter on 2007-12-16 00:37 ]
There is a fine line between keeping your pecker up and seeming to enjoy the strike but, to me anyway, the writers are all staying on the right side of that, approaching the points that need it with the right amount of gravitas and solemnity (e.g. the below the line folks being out of work) but also employing applied irreverence where that's most appropriate (it's the surgical strike of humour ;).

Know what you mean Simon but then, we haven't signed anything, we're all still free agents and can stop doing anything whenever we please. Maybe one more pencil buy and then i'll knock that on the head I reckon, effective as it is, it's still symbolic and you can't eat symbols - i'd rather contribute those monies more directly to the people that need it most (on which topic, is there now - or are there any plans for - a simple Paypal style donations link directly to the union solidarity fund or similar, one that doesn't involve international phone calls to verify I am who I am ?).

(and Jeffrey from UnitedHollywood hinted at another campaign after the pencils thing has run its course, think he said details may follow next week ? Variety is the key I think, keep it fresh, keep spirits up, stay wiry ;)
I think that financially crippling the laid off workers is part of the studios' strategy.

But the writers have a large responsibility for the future financial health of all the laid-off workers. If the writers cave and give up on online residuals, their bad deal will become a precedent for denying online residuals in all the subsequent contracts that come up for renegotiation. That will cripple the financial health of all the creative workers in the industry -- not just now, but for the foreseeable future.

That's why the other unions are standing by the writers, and it's good reason for us to.
I agree with Simon, but I use many more words than him on average, and I will live up to that here. I agree with him on the need for a different kind of campaign to avoid mishap, but for a slightly different reason. The following from jeffreyunited's post earlier really crystallizes the issue for me:

I hope to have a new fan-based campaign set and ready for everyone by next week (and this next one won't cost a thing).

You guys are the best fans I've come across yet. Keep up the good work.

So, in response to United Hollywood--

It concerns me to see the WGA running a "fan-based" campaign. A fan-based campaign is, by definition, run by fans. But my worry is far from semantic here. As it is, the pencil campaign has been a little weird from a participant's viewpoint. We can't see the numbers by fandom directly ourselves, for example. I don't say this out of mistrust or foreboding of the fans getting screwed over (but I wasn't involved in this fandom during the Universal days, and I do sympathize with that viewpoint as well).

My viewpoint is this: WGA running a "fan-based" campaign is a top-down approach, and I would argue, inherently dishonest in a well-meaning way. It's also inherently inefficient. I'm concerned that the pencils and whatever follows will continue to adapt too slowly, because your energy is channeled into this and many other strike efforts. You're busy elsewhere, and you're all far better at writing blog posts and making statements than you can possibly be at keeping the pencil total updated and developing a widget to show live totals by fandom. It takes a certain level of obsession to do that. It takes fans. So does friendly rivalry. Telling me Buffy is losing to Smallville means less to me when it's coming from you. It doesn't feel the same.

I've been reluctant to express this too openly (although I did express some of it in a United Hollywood blog comment awhile back) because divisiveness is the last thing we need. But seeing that United Hollywood has commented in this thread, in response to what I and others said upthread, I think it's time I said this more loudly-- you are writers trying to work up competition among your fans. It's not a bad idea, and the cause is good, and I completely understand the desire to step in and organize something. But you should not be doing it. We want to help you, but I really think you need to leave it to us to send a message to the studios "from the fans." Because when you're running it, it's not quite coming from us. When a campaign involves showrunners challenging fans of other shows to buy pencils, I see it as a really terrible application of a bunch of really good ideas and the best of intentions.

I also imagine that the AMPTP's PR people will be able to quickly say, in response to pencil news, that it's a "WGA effort." That it's the WGA offering fans prizes to support their cause. While it's driven by fan support in real money, it's all organized by the WGA, and it's on the United Hollywood blog, which makes it a lot easier to devalue when it starts to get more press. I will mention that here in the mid-Atlantic, I've yet to see it in mainstream news, although there was a lovely NPR piece last week that briefly mentioned suspicions that the AMPTP wants the strike.

I only say all this here because I want the writers to win, and I think fan support is one of the strongest things on your side, if not the strongest. But our being on your side is not the same thing as being yours to organize. I think you should leave the organization of fan-based initiatives to us, the fans. There's definite room for working together on all kinds of initiatives, such as fans sending food to the picket lines, and fans picketing with the WGA on a day of members' choosing like the Mutant Enemy strike and the Boston rally. 'm not suggesting that we not work together. If you rally in D.C., I'll be there. But I think fan-based efforts meant to show the studios how much we support you should be distinct and separate from the WGA, both to keep things authentic and honest and also to allow fan efforts to have the maximum impact for the fan effort channeled into them. Otherwise it's the WGA showing how much fan support you can drum up, and that's just not the same thing.

And, more generally:
I try to avoid arguing against a course of action without offering alternatives. So I'll share what I plan to do. I'll give to Food4Thought, and I'll keep blogging and linking and discussing. And I'll send a Christmas card to each AMPTP CEO. In it I will explain, in my own handwriting, why I will not give anyone a DVD this Christmas, and why I have not asked for any. If I receive one, I'll exchange or return it. I will mention that my gift purchases and requests include books, comics, and cds. I will make it clear that I do not need tv, but writers need a fair deal on DVD and internet residuals. And that I intend to buy DVDs and watch internet content as usual after the WGA and other guilds receive a fair deal. And no sooner.

Maybe a real fan-based "No DVDs this Christmas" or a more general DVD boycott campaign is what is needed, if it's not too late. I know that there is one ongoing, but the visibility has been low. Maybe it's time to ramp that up. We could make a holiday effort multi-faith (I only celebrate Christmas secularly by family tradition myself). Christmas might be more to the point though, since Chanukah has passed already, and realistically it is Christmas that drives a lot of the consumerism in the U.S. this time of year. And everyone can participate in a boycott, regardless of location. There is a Fans4Writers thread already for discussion outside of Whedonesque.
Think it was RavenU that made a pretty decent point about current DVD residuals going towards health benefits, insurance etc. for the BTL folks i.e. if we boycott DVDs we're effectively taking money from the people that really need it (and writers still get their pre-existing residuals, right ? So if the strike lasts, aren't we actually harming them in the long-term too ?).

Individual choice of course but personally i'm only boycotting streaming media/on-demand stuff (though obviously even that's maybe double edged - if there's a significant downturn, the studios can point to it as showing the unpredictable nature of internet "broadcast", how it's still in its infancy and possibly use it as leverage against the WGA).

I also don't mind the showrunners taking a hand in the pencil thing - it was a fan idea that they tweaked for scalability and in other ways that made a lot of sense to me (renewable trees, mass delivery to maximise media impact and save the poor auld postie that has to deliver the damn things etc. ;). And as I say, no-one's forcing us to do anything, we're all individuals after all.
Maybe DVDs are the wrong approach, then. I was thinking in terms of what I give that the AMPTP would not be happy to lose in purchases, and what the writers currently don't make much money off of. Maybe it should only be online content. I don't think that impacts the AMPTP as much though, in the current market. But I am not an economist. I certainly don't want to take income away from writers if the DVD residuals do make a difference to them individually.
Yeah, I think you're right that, great though fan support is, the AMPTP only really care about the bottom line and that's where we should try to hit them.

Pressuring advertisers seems to be a logical choice, maybe even adapt the 'Variety' ad idea to a list of advertisers and a message directly to them that we're not happy with the AMPTP's approach ? (though given their uneven coverage i'm a bit loathe to put cash in 'Variety's pocket).

(and full disclosure BTW, not living in the US I can't actually stream most of their media anyway so that particular boycott is no great hardship for me, i'm certainly not pontificating about what others should do when I don't have to suffer myself)
Saje, Sunfire, et al, you spurred another thought. AMPTP earns a fair bit through advertisers, right? Why not send them peanuts or pencils or whathaveyou? Why don't we tell AMPTP's bosses that we are legion and supporting the creators of the content we enjoy so?

"Dear Sir or Madam, your product or service is being advertised through XYZ medium. As you are likely aware, the creative forces (the writers) behind the vehicle being used to sell your products or services is one that does not fairly compensate those creators. Until a fair arrangement can be attained for the writers of this content I regret to inform you that I cannot in good conscious continue to enjoy your product or service. I am encouraging friends and family to follow suit until this is resolved. Sincerely, me."
Smallville has fans?

More a casual viewing show than one that would have fans IMO.

Hah. Bit of a low blow that one.
Sunfire, thanks for your well written post upthread. JeffreyUnited's phrase about the WGA's fan-based campaign bothered me as well and for the same reasons. I have done what I can, to support the strike. Blogging, buying a new plane ticket so I could stay in SOCal for ME day, sending postcards, etc. I am 100% behind the writers and I understand their urge to make use of us. I just don't want it to become them using us. Saje is right, it is individual choice of all, but let's generate our own ideas.
We're pulling ahead of BSG and LOST but Smallville is still kicking our butts. Those tweens must be stealing their parents credit cards or something. Where are all of the eccentric multi-millionaire (pencil buying) Whedon fans when you need them?
There was a concert held 12/14/2007 http://unitedhollywood.blogspot.com/2007/12/updated-write-aid-benefit-concert.html

"A Benefit Concert to Provide Assistance
to Industry Employees Affected by the WGA Strike"

Hopefully, they will post how much money was raised.
kerfuffle,

If we had "eccentric multi-millionaire Whedon fans", we'd have
Serenity sequel, sequel, Serenity set we can tour/have weddings/have shindigs at Universal Studios and where Firefly like episodes could be filmed for Straight to DVD and SciFi or USA Channel. Got my QMX Official Serenity Blueprints and lottery tickets. :)

Hmmm, have to go check my lottery tickets.
Yeah, currently we're all just mad (though i'm saving up to become eccentric).
Well I'm mad (both definitions) and eccentric, but I've had a long time to acquire those virtues.

I'm firmly in the "don't stop buying DVD's" camp, no matter how little the writers get from those sales, it's better than nothing.
And I fail to see what difference it makes who initiates the, um, initiatives involving both writers and fans, as long as it's made clear to the public that we the fans are indeed working with and backing the writers.

The one thing I do agree may be counterproductive, as it may give the AMPTP reason to claim that fans are being "bribed", is the competition, i.e. win a phone call from Michael B. for Smallville pencil donations.

I believe that one of the biggest problems is getting publicity out via more mainstream media. And the holidays are not helping, I think people will be more likely to give this more attention, once they're over.
The one mainstream (basic cable) network I've seen do a couple of "writer friendly" bites .... on their TV news, not just the internet .... is E!News Daily. Katherine Heigle(sp) of Grey's Anatomy being interviewed about her Golden Globe nomination for best supporting actress, stated that as honored as she is, if the WGA pickets the awards ceremony, she wont cross the picket line. (Yay Catherine!)
And that, on national television, is IMO the kind of publicity that will make unaware fans stop and think. There are obviously a lot of issues and a lot of refinements to be made re. different strategies, just a few thoughts.
Maybe a real fan-based "No DVDs this Christmas" or a more general DVD boycott campaign is what is needed, if it's not too late. I know that there is one ongoing, but the visibility has been low. Maybe it's time to ramp that up. We could make a holiday effort multi-faith (I only celebrate Christmas secularly by family tradition myself). Christmas might be more to the point though, since Chanukah has passed already, and realistically it is Christmas that drives a lot of the consumerism in the U.S. this time of year. And everyone can participate in a boycott, regardless of location. There is a Fans4Writers thread already for discussion outside of Whedonesque.


Sunfire, I was agreeing with everything you said until you talked about boycotting DVDs. I can't agree with you there because that hurts the writers and Below The Line people who get residuals from them. Instead, I suggest keeping track of the companies who advertise on television, and mailing them postcards stating you support the WGA and you refuse to buy their products as long as they pay money to the struck companies. Adding location and age demos might help too.

And maybe this would be better in the form of an actual petition (not an online petition, those are easily ignored) that people can sign at these rallies that Joss and others are putting together.

Boycott the advertisers. Boycott them and tell them so. Think twice about buying Charmin toilet paper and eating at Taco Bell after watching their commercials. The advertisers can't ignore that kind of protest. It hurts the AMPTP where they live: MONEY.
RhaegarTargaryen said:
Saje, Sunfire, et al, you spurred another thought. AMPTP earns a fair bit through advertisers, right? Why not send them peanuts or pencils or whathaveyou? Why don't we tell AMPTP's bosses that we are legion and supporting the creators of the content we enjoy so?


This is a fantastic plan. Hit them where it hurts. And where does it hurt? Wherever they feel financial pressure. The advertisers are people that they have to keep happy (unlike the rest of us). I think it would have to be more bothersome than a boycott though. We need to nag them. Nag them into submission. Ha!

Good thinking. I feel like laughing in a diabolical manner. :o)
I bought some pencils (and for Smallville - hah!) but I also picked up my pencil. We can all do that.

http://www.metronews.ca/column.aspx?id=95770

Well, technically it was my keyboard.
I've been for boycotting advertisers since the beginning, but I think it has to be for something that that's clearly being used to replace scripted shows shut down by the strike. Is there an unambiguous replacement show out yet? I haven't spotted one, but I'd participate in a boycott of the first and every subsequent one's advertisers.
Write on, redeem147!
I'd like to ask once again that people consider helping the BTL people this holiday season.

WGA Support Fund
Motion Picture & Television Fund
23388 Mullholland Drive
Woodland Hills, CA 91364

Donations by web: www.mptvfund.org
Donations by phone: 818-876-1900

I'm working on a contest idea to give prizes to contributors.

I think I'm a critic from one of the corners Simon was talking about. The pencils thing broke my heart, it was just so much money wasted at a time when people here are out of work, and the whole city is quickly becoming crippled by the strike.

These are carpenters, costumers, lighting and sound engineers, painters, set designers and so on whose livelihood is driven by the industry.

I've read a lot of blogs about the strike, and IASTE members are sometimes told to shut up and support the WGA, since the words on a page drive their jobs. But without BTL crew, all writers have is words on a page.

Both groups are being shafted by AMPTP execs who don't give a damn about the hurt caused by their petty power grab. But ultimately, it's those BTL that are going to have a completely miserable xmas.

These are hard workers and skilled artisans being trampled underfoot.

Instead of sending another pencil, please put your dollar into this fund.
You can do both. I can do both. I'm going to do both.

ETA: I just did. They let you give "tribute gifts," and my first choice was the sainted Mrs. Pointy, but they want to notify the person you're going to pay tribute to, and they ask an address, and both those things seemed rather complicated under the circumstances, so I used Joss's name and gave as the address the picket line in front of Fox.

Joss, they won't tell you how much I donated, but I want you to know it eleventy bazillion dollars. U O me.

[ edited by Pointy on 2007-12-16 21:00 ]
That's AWESOME!
Yup, although frankly their software had a little trouble processing the eleventy.
I'm working on a contest idea to give prizes to contributors.


Cool. I look forward to pimping it here on the front page.
Tried donating to the MPTV fund last week and it wouldn't have it, just tried tonight and it went straight through (maybe they've relaxed their checks on international donors ? Or maybe it's at my card company's end, dunno) so if you've previously tried and failed to donate from abroad, it might be worth giving it another go.

(couldn't manage eleventy bazillion dollars though, not with Christmas coming up ;)
Oh, don't worry, it doesn't make you any less of a fan.
Allyson, in supporting the...

WGA Support Fund
Motion Picture & Television Fund
23388 Mullholland Drive
Woodland Hills, CA 91364

...is there any way for the 'supported' to know it came from fans of the writers? Maybe it doesn't matter since WGA support is coming from the quarter I'd like them to know it's coming from.

Secondarily, I don't want to miss an opportunity for the AMPTP to know we the fans are supporting with our dollars this needy cause. I'm guessing, perhaps wrongly, that the AMPTP doesn't have a comparable fundraiser in place? If not, wouldn't the disparate concern for these people be a feather in the writers' cap? Wouldn't it be PR worthy?

...yes, I agree, this was not written with an altruistic heart. Forgive me. I'd like to do the whole "two birds with one stone" trick if possible.
Heh Pointy, damned with faint reassurance ;-).

RhaegarTargaryen, there's a "special instructions or comments" field where you can put a message (or as Pointy mentions, apparently if you do a "tribute donation" you can say who you're paying tribute to).
I'm just glad, Saje, to hear that everything is working again. For you. With that little problem. Which is gone now, so: good!

:o
Thanks, Saje :) Well, that felt really good to do. My altruistic side is still broken because this feels really damn good.

I couldn't quite understand the difference between "Name of Person to Notify" and "Name of Person" so I just put "Joss Whedon" in there twice. No fancy address like Pointy did; I didn't put any address. If you ever find yourself homeless, Joss, your honoree letter will help lift your spirits; so there's that.

Oh, in my last post I missed link addy Allyson had: Donations by web: www.mptvfund.org

EDIT: Saje, I noticed that "special instruction or comments" box after my CC info...and I took it to be CC related instructions...but I'm wondering if a special instruction could be put in there like: "Please give to helping save people's homes (Residential fund?)" ...I don't want families to lose their homes. A tough Christmas, I can handle that (been through a few myself). Going lean on food, been there. But it tears me up thinking of people losing their home. Damnable AMPTP!

[ edited by RhaegarTargaryen on 2007-12-16 23:39 ]
Thanks Simon. I need to figure out a way to keep track of donations and then I need to go email every writer I know to beg for scripts and have them sent to me, and I hate asking for stuff.

I don't want to use my paypal because paypal takes a chunk of cash, and I think individuals would like their receipts for taxes.

It's all very complex, and involves irritating a lot of people.
If only compassionate, committed, generous writers frequented this site so Allyson's plea could touch their big, love-filled, mature-Grinchy hearts.

[ edited by Pointy on 2007-12-17 01:07 ]
RhaegarTargaryen -

Spooky, Mulder. I was just thinking "Too bad we can't do some kind of online bake sale or something to raise funds," and then I read your "online garage sale" idea.

Ya know, back when I was trying (For two years, mind) to put together my own "Buffy" convention, one of the things I thought of to raise funds was making medicine shields (One of my hobbies) with character names and/or faces on them. People could order them w/their favorite color for the lacing, and let me know what design they wanted. Wasn't sure about copyright infringement, though.

But, I'd be willing to make up a couple samples if someone were to kick-start a fund-raiser like you suggested. Also, if I can learn the technique, candles w/images in them, like a picture of Giles (Whom I'd much rather hear from, thanks), embedded in the wax.
Allyson-- did I read correctly, the MPTV fund does help people below the line as well as the WGA? How does it compare to the WGA's Strike Fund? From what I've read about the WGA's Strike Fund, it looks like people file paperwork showing a certain level of financial need and then they get a loan? Is the MPTV similar?

I'm not sure about an advertiser boycott, because
1) it's indirect
2) it's rather dilute (many very large companies, with large consumer bases which makes them less vulnerable).

Sorry for all the questions, this aspect of the entertainment industry is all very new to me. The posts here and at Fans4Writers have been very helpful to read. If a DVD boycott is the wrong move, I want to have some other action instead. Or if I do boycott DVDs, I'd rather give to the writers and below the line people affected to counterbalance the loss of residuals, if that's possible. And I realize it's not the same thing. Giving money to one of the support funds is an obvious choice, but then beyond that, I'm still thinking about what to do that would affect the AMPTP.

ETA: I'd missed dreamlogic's post above. Targeting the advertisers who support the replacement shows is a pretty good idea and seems like it might solve the dilution problem.

[ edited by Sunfire on 2007-12-17 02:14 ]
WGA members can apply for strike loans.

The MPTV fund is strictly for the BTL crew. I have a letter from the WGA that explains it, let me type it up and I'll post.

Boycotting DVDs? Ridic. The writers get residuals from the DVD sales.

Boycotting DVDs? Ridic. The writers get residuals from the DVD sales.


Thanks for making that point short, sweet, and clear, Allyson.
My Mom say a bit on TV Talked about David Letterman's production company and how the WGA is trying to bargain with individual show companies. It showed lots of strikers walking in front of some studio. Looked good.

You know how they had a food drive at ME day. How about a toy drive?
That's crazy Anonymous1, the steering wheels are way too small and I doubt they'd take the weight anyway. We'd be better collecting toys (or money for toys) instead.
I think we should load smaller toys into r/c vehicles and just use them to deliver the smaller toys. Army men first so they can direct the other toys on threat of violence (those potato heads get out of control sometimes, especially when they get into the goofy noses).
That's all well and good but what about an exit strategy ?

We can't just send toys in without considering when we think the delivery is actually accomplished. What's the metric for success, partial delivery ? The delivery of all toys everywhere for ever and ever ? Or just as much of a delivery as we can realistically spin to look like we've actually accomplished something ?
Enough for realistic spin should always be the goal ;) Mission accomplished!
Is someone getting into the festive eggnog already?
And really, if these are children of writers, shouldn't we be buying them scarves and arty glasses instead of toys?
Arty glass and fancy scarves. I know what I'll be wearing to the next strike rally!
Just a quick note, the Pencils2mediaMoguls Campaign will be ending by the end of the year. Collectively Whedon fans have purchased over 50,000 pencils. Not bad considering Joss doesn't even have a show on the air at this time. But the Smalvvile fans are still in the lead and time is running out. The last delivery of pencils will happen on the east coast after the new year.

Good luck Whedon fans.

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