Timeshadows, whose blog The Grand Tapestry has never really interested me, yesterday posted a rant from Harlan Ellison about being paid as a writer. It's from back in 2007, so it's not new ... in it Ellison gets worked up over being asked to work free for Warner Brothers. I think the telling moment is where the woman representing Warner in this place suggests that it would be "good publicity" for Ellison to give his time, as though Harlan fucking Ellison needs publicity at his point in his career. Ellison doesn't say exactly why in the rant, he assumes the listener knows very well that Ellison does not need the work. He has as much money as he needs, and if he wants more, he only needs to call any university in the country and agree to talk for 45 minutes. For that they will pay him $20,000. At least.
The YouTube video, named by someone who obviously is deficient in the way of intelligence, is entitled "Media Whore." For the record, a media whore is someone who will do anything in order to get recognized by the media. In other words, if Ellison was a media whore, he would have done the gig for free because he did want the publicity. The fact that he spits on the publicity demonstrates that what he definitely is not is a media whore.
Ellison makes the same argument here that I made on my own post just 12 days ago. I don't work for the gentle reader, I'm not here for the gentle reader's benefit, and if the gentle reader would like me to change that policy, the gentle reader can pay me. Ellison is merely viewing the general bullshit circus of appearing on anything for a major studio as a waste of time, taking him away from things he'd rather be doing. I realize that most of you reading this aren't personally aware of what it's like to work on a television set. It is hell. It is contracts, and sitting around waiting, and listening to self-important people tell you what to say and think. There's no respect and there's an ever-present veiled threat in whatever you're being told. It is being treated as an infant and being threatened by a lawsuit at the same time. If I had Ellison's kind of clout, I wouldn't fucking do it if they did pay me.
Sure, Ellison in the video seems mad as a hatter. If you weren't very familiar with the influence of Ellison in the science fiction universe since the 1960s, you'd have to wonder what the shit this guy is on. If you were very young and very stupid, you might think this fellow had a head much, much to large for the planet he's on. But you would have to be very young and very stupid.
But nothing tops the truly stupid comment left by Zzarchov, which I want to be sure I copy here so he can't delete it t
here. Here it is in its entirety:
"I always laugh when I hear professionals rant about amateurs. Yes they devalue you work, yes they set a bad precedent.. But in the end if other people are willing to do it for free (or even pay to do it), you can't expect to be paid for it and should count yourself either very lucky, very skilled or both if you can. The term media whore is appropriate. That is a profession that is also undervalued by all those giving away for free what they expect to be paid for ;)"
I would have responded on Timeshadow's blog, but she doesn't like me all that much and I really don't want to get insulting in someone else's universe. I'll respect her that much. But Zzarchov, who comments regularly on this blog and really just pisses me off sometimes with his inability to get my fucking point, shows here that I am not the only one who's point just doesn't get past the goal posts.
Apparently, if I consider my writing to be work for which I deserve to be compensated, I am the equivalent of a whore, for no other reason than that there exist in the world writers who will work for free. I don't know which writers in the world are writing at the level of Harlan Ellison for free, but that doesn't matter, apparently. Professionals who consider themselves worth being paid are, according to Zzarchov, laughable. Furthermore, I have no right to expect pay, because "other people are willing to do it for free."
It is remarkable that Zzarchov is making this comment in reference to someone who IS very skilled, though Zzarchov seems completely unaware of that. That's why Ellison DOES expect to be paid for it. Because he is very skilled.
Zzarchov's is the sort of reasoning that has been applied to this post over and over again, missing the point over and over no matter how many times its stated or how clearly it is written. It is the reason this blog's comments are now moderated. I found Zzarchov's comments about Ellison personally insulting, because if this is something Zzarchov believes, it applies to me and it applies to every blogger out here. The fact that I write this particular post for free does not create a moral obligation to work for other people if I don't wish to do so. The fact that other people choose to write for free does not morally obligate me, either. And I am not a whore for insisting that my time and my work is compensated.
Why am I writing this on a D&D blog? Well, for one thing, it is in answer to another D&D blog. For another, this is where Zzarchov tends to comment and I'd like to make it clear that his contributions here are pretty much finished. There comes a moment in a person's relationship with other people where a revealing fact about someone's character makes it impossible for that relationship to continue. For some of the people who read, or used to read this blog, it is my acidic delivery and my condescension that crosses the line. For me, it is another person's willful ignorance in the face of facts or evidence. In this case, Zzarchov insults personally a writer I respect, presenting facts and evidence which fit with my own experiences with regards to people who want delivery for nothing. If he will do it with Ellison, he will do it with me. I see no reason to wait for that to happen. He's crossed my line and I'm kicking him back over it.