Some Thoughts On Movement OWS’ Past and Present

Back in the Brian Walton Writers’ Guild of America West (WGA) days, Harlen Ellison, Steve Bocchco, David Weinstein and a number of us (many of whose names apologetically I no longer remember) created the WGA’s “Promote Writers” campaign. Forming a “committee,” we insisted the WGA hire a mainstream PR firm to help elevate the status of the WGA writer from chump to champ. After several bids, Walton gave the work to Rogers & Cowan. They charged exorbitant fees and, essentially did nothing except exhaust the Guild’s allocated funds.

Harlen, David and I insisted we bring in the brilliant PR crisis control maven, Linda Dozoretz and her then pr partner. They did an excellent job of helping us with WGAW marketing/pr strategies. Our committee took writers into LA area education programs, helped cement the mentor program, tried (with little to no success) to reach upper “management” of studio corporations and indies (now often one in the same). As you know, the WGA strike of 1979 lasted nine months and almost broke us. The wiles and chicanery of the corporate “destroy-at-any-cost” mentality was alive and well then. It’s hard not to bounce from high to low when you finally realize that your life, soul, livelihood and entirely controlled by a powerful, greedy misogynistic (at the time) group of producers who had no clue “What they were looking for” but would “Know it when they read it.”

Hoping to draw a strong parallel here to OWS, I can say that WGA writers knew then we were relatively powerless. We needed to make a statement about the role of the “screenwriter” (aka “author”).

Our Bucky Fuller “Critical Mass” attained, we went to work elevating the perception of the “writer” in Hollywood. Thank the Creator that it’s now time for OWS to join continue the protests that, themselves, were carried on by others.

Let’s kiss the ground for those who would not and will not be silenced. Including all thinking people. Those who helped our generation articulate powerlessness such that we had somewhere to “come from” and a meaningful goal for which to reach.

Who remembers Eugene Debs, Susan B. Anthony, or only recently the voices of Ralph Abernathy, Nikki Giovanni, Gloria Steinem, German Greer, Better Friedan, Ti-Grace Atkinson, Sen. Bella Abzug, Sen. Barbara Jordan and Shirley Chisholm, Tom Hayden, RFK & MLK, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, resonated. Then they filled the auditoriums, university steps, and parks. That was their OWS.

Let’s not forget gutsy producers John Sayles, Robert Greenwald, Frederick Wiseman, Norman Lear, Horton Foote, and Robert Redford (for their commitment to cinematically sharing critically important stories). Or Karen Danaher-Dorr, Steve White, Marian Brayton for extraordinary network chutzpah, and the many more who labored against the Hollywood odds, worked hard, and succeeded or failed under the control of the corporation.

Should we be hopeful? Yes. Against all odds, I believe the laws of Nature will prevail. Critical mass has been reached. OWS voices give us additional hope for positive change. Tomorrows Wangari Maathai, Mario Savio, Margaret Sanger, Eunice Shriver, Mollie Ivans, Ann Richardson, and Leonard Matlovich can not now be silenced. The goals of breaking corporate misogyny, restoring collective bargaining and unions, and righting the wrongs of a seriously ill society can not now be stopped. So let us go forth with esprit, pride, thoughtfulness, and knowledge of self worth in tact. That’s reason to celebrate and look forward. Those are a few thoughts on movements like OWS past and present.


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