November 13, 2007

Hollywood as a union town

From my 2005 American Conservative article on "Hollywood's Skin-Deep Leftism:"

Hollywood is a union town in a traditionally anti-union metropolis, and, while that makes industry workers more Democratic, it also has paradoxically conservative effects. The creative artists' unions such as the Writer's Guild keep the movies from being an utterly death or glory business like the music industry, where countless wanna-bes work for years for almost nothing in the hopes of becoming one of the few superstars. The film guilds help those who have made it into the inner circle stay there long enough to raise a family.

At the blue collar level, the Teamsters (the most GOP-leaning union, by the way) are widely despised as lazy goldbrickers, but most of the other crafts unions are considered team players whose members, while generously-paid, are competent and hustle when needed.

A production company recently rented my mongrel front lawn to shoot a few seconds of a beer commercial ... About 60 technicians swarmed all over my street, the great majority of them white males, a proportion normally unheard of in Southern California where so much of the blue collar work is done by illegal immigrants. The movie and TV unions are pretty much all that's keeping what's left of L.A.'s American-born blue collar workers from being driven out of California by illegal aliens willing to undercut their wages.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer


Anonymous said...

Yeah, it was the Afrikaner trade unions that did so much to advance Apartheid - just a racial closed shop, really. I take it that much of the Hollywood union labour consists of sons and sons-in-law?

Anonymous said...

I have a vague idea that this writers' strike is significant, but I don't know enough yet to say for sure.

Is it getting so difficult and expensive to maintain a middle-class lifestyle in California that cultural institutions such as Hollywood are beginning to crumble under the strain? If so, where next?

Although I don't know how profitable Hollywood has been recently, I would imagine that it is not on very firm ground. For better or for worse, Hollywood has defined America for decades, so any decline, even a slow one, has profound cultural significance.

I've been wondering when Hollywood would finally start to go under like much of the rest of California. Could this be the beginning of the end?

I guess we'll see. Maybe the producers can offshore some of the writing to Mumbai. Sounds ridiculous, but I'd bet good money they've thought about it.

Anonymous said...

Of all the front lawns in California, why would they choose the Sailer's? That's gotta be a good story.

Anonymous said...

Steve - I knew as soon as I started reading your stuff, and before it was confirmed, that you were a fellow Los Angeles County-raised guy. As I don't need to explain to you, you and I realize that what happened to our hometown in so many different ways is nothing less that the United States' collective future played out as warning and farce.

So I'm not surprised that you get the small town union nature of Hollywood as well. Imagine what set carpenters would look like if the industry was de-unionized! All those last holdout middle class guys who live in places like Burbank would quickly be hunted to extinction.

It's a strange world, but, for once, I am thankful for it. It's one of the quirks that keeps, for some, a middle-class white life possible in the belly of the beast.

Steve Sailer said...

"Of all the front lawns in California, why would they choose the Sailer's?"

The beer commercial folks chose mine, I suspect, because it really looks like the lawn of a guy who spends more time drinking beer than weeding.

Anonymous said...

Bill -- there is an IHT article about Hollywood's losses last year estimated at about 1.9 billion. The result of a revenue participation bet with big players (Cruise, Clooney, Pitt, Depp etc) that did not pan out when foreign ticket and DVD revenues did not grow and US revenues did not grow.

Hollywood depends on foreign revenue to an astonishing amount, about half it's revenue. That is under threat from piracy (American Gangster was pirated and for sale online and from street vendors in LA before it opened).

So there is tremendous revenue pressure, Hollywood may end up a few really rich actors, some working-middle class ones, directors, A List writers and showrunners, and most writing outsourced to foreigners who are cheap and non-picketable. And who will do as well if not better for foreign audiences and no worse than Americans for things that have elitism built in like say, Grace is Gone, or Michael Clayton.

Anonymous said...

What's Apartheid got to do with this topic? Apartheid is like Nazism that when people become mentally lazy they just use these terms as clubs to score some points. I guess with a shotgun you will hit something by just pointing into the general direction, whereas with a rifle it takes some skill to score. Same with Apartheid. When you are clueless, just shout Apartheid and by default you may be right.

Anonymous said...

anon, Apartheid was the means by which the Boer industrial workers tried to avoid cheaper black labour taking 'their' jobs. Compare with Steve's "The movie and TV unions are pretty much all that's keeping what's left of L.A.'s American-born blue collar workers from being driven out of California by illegal aliens willing to undercut their wages." Is the analogy really beyond you?

Anonymous said...

Libertarians who hate to pay for their entertainment? Pardon me, Steve, who was it who was asking his commenters how to download a movie for review off BitTorrent again? ;)