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Joss Whedon

Joss Whedon - "Writers Guild of America" Strike - 5 Great Strike Movies

Friday 9 November 2007, by Webmaster


Hi campers (and people not currently camping)! Still phegmtastic, but wanted to say a quick thanks to Dreamlogic (I will not reveal her real name here, for I know she has many enemies) (which is weird ‘cause she seems nice enough) for bringing the sign and the food and the love yesterday. The place was mobbed, and in addition to Drew and Marti I got to hang with BKV, and Liz Craft and Sarah Fain (Women’s Murder Club – Catch it! When it comes back!) and many other fine folk. And yes, there was talk of a Buffy picket (or really a Mutant Enemy picket) being set up when I’m not sick and Tim’s not on jury duty.

Since I don’t have any real news and don’t feel like waxing poetical (can you bikini wax poetical?) (like short, painful prose that reads real smooth after?) I’ve decided to list my five (off the top of my congested head) favorite strike movies, to get us all in the proper frame of mind. Hopefully, none of them can be downloaded.


#5: BILLY ELLIOT. This is primarily about a boy who wants to dance, but the backdrop is the miner’s strike in Manchester in the 80’s, and it’s gritty and tough and depressing and uplifting. (Thatcher and Reagan really got the ball rolling on anti-unionism. Thanks, guys!)

#4: DAY OF THE DEAD. Okay, not a strike movie. And it’s a stretch as an allegory, but it’s not a stretch to find a critique of capitalism laid out in it. Expanding (as Romero always did) on ‘Dawn of the Dead’s themes of mindless consumerism and conformity (zombies outside the mall) and ‘living the American dream’ of pointless acquisition (people living IN the mall), Romero takes us here to the bleak end of that scenario, where the ‘haves’ (soldiers and scientists) are holed up in a cave with acres of trailers and boats and goodies – all of them useless – going completely insane while the ‘have-nots’ (zombies) are left outside or kept in a pen, the lucky few being fed the occasional dead person. The zombies are much more sympathetic than the humans, especially ‘Bub’ (the unforgettable Sherman Howard), who is being tested and showing signs of humanity, and who becomes the ‘voice’ of the starving (okay, for brains) masses. I myself am a capitalist, but like any system, taken to its extreme it’s unfair, untenable and results in the destruction of the system. And what is this fight about if not capitalism at its untenable extreme? How much money do these corporations need to take from us? Seriously. In what way can our basic rights actually damage them? Have they ever said “We can’t guarantee you fair residuals on all media because of such and such, because it will lead to this and that?” What, exactly, is their position besides “Nuh-uh”? The bile riseth. So I have no problem including a film with entrail-munching on my list.

#3: NORMA RAE. Duh. ‘Sides, Sally Field was on the picket lines yesterday. Yay her.

#2: NEWSIES. Oh, you knew this was coming. The wonderful irony of Disney making a children’s fable about the power of workers’ unions was lost on me when I first saw it (it was not lost on the L.A Weekly). The politics of this film are clear, intelligent and uplifting. And the songs are catchy. And Batman’s in it. (And hearing my children walking around the house singing “No one can make us give our rights away” makes all of this a lot easier.) Is it dorky? YOU’RE dorky! Dork.

#1: MATEWAN. This is one of my favorite movies, period. John Sayles captures a coal miners’ strike from the thirties with beauty and pain and extraordinary verite. He also captures Chris Cooper, Mary McDonnell and David Strathairn long before they were well known, in indelible performances. And you don’t know what contempt is until you’ve heard James Earl Jones use his James Earl Jones voice to spit out the word “scab”. A classic. (Fun fact: Kevin Tighe plays a heavy in this AND ‘Newsies’. Have a Kevin-Tighe-is-a-meanie double bill!)

There! Now you can makes some popcorn, cosy up on the couch and get all strikey! I’ll check back in when I’ve got actual news, or any leads on Dreamlogic’s many enemies. (Wait a minute… didn’t I see her talking heatedly with TrollLogic?) Let me know if there’s any good movies I missed.

Parenthetically (seriously, what’s up with that?), –j.