means that everyone works. . . but they are no longer contracted employees. That
means that employer – Ford or Chrysler. . .cannot be held responsible for them
anymore. They’re being paid on a week- by-week, month-to-month, or even project-
by-project or a season-by-season basis. They can be let go at any moment.
Nobody is required to invest in them – for instance training for new technologies is
done on their own time. . .That is exactly the model that Hollywood has been
adopting for the last 50-years or so.
This downgrading of labor costs and incentives is becoming more commonplace in the rest
of the workforce and the Hollywood model, coming to a business near you, has no qualms
about leaving contracts behind:
. . .even if you have a contract which many people don’t – if you get fired or as
the industry says, ‘go on hiatus.’ You spend a couple of months out of work
and then the producer will call you back on the set – and sometimes they don’t
call -- even if you have a two or three contract – you’re out of a job. You
have no power. (Interchange, 2009).
The lack of contractual obligation is considered the ticket you pay for being part of an
exciting creative workforce but the same model is now being applied to other more staid
industries and it is challenging the way we see work as a way to take care of our family
comments Deuze when featured in Kent’s Interchange radio segment “Mark Deuze Living
With Media” (Interchange, 2009).
Everyone accepts that – it’s part of the game – that’s what you do. It’s the
price you pay for doing this awesome kind of work. Like a lot of media
professionals tell me, ‘I can’t believe I’m getting paid to do this. I get to
work with this actor.’ It’s wonderful and it’s awesome but it comes at a
price and the price is that all the things we traditionally associate with what
it means to be a worker – especially in this country where politicians
including President Obama – make such a big deal out of the pride of
work – of having a job and taking care of your family – it comes with a
context of values. Your work is something you have for a long time. It comes
with benefits, pays healthcare, and gives you some time to go on holiday with
your loved ones. It trains you to work on the new machine. That is out of
the window. With the decline of the manufacturing industry, the whole idea
of what work means is disappearing and in its place is the idea of what work