I have to admit that I was secretly thrilled when Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert-–my sole pop-cultural fixes-–announced that they would be coming back on the air at the beginning of January, despite the ongoing Writers Guild strike.
Now, I know that Jews go back to the beginning of organized labor and that such figures as Samuel Gompers and Emma Lazarus helped create a proud legacy of Jewish activism on behalf of exploited workers. I certainly would never cross a picket line to patronize a store or hotel whose workers were on strike. So why can’t I get myself worked up that the Writers Guild strike is an issue that Jews should be supporting?
Maybe it’s because the writers are a far cry from the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory workers, or maybe it’s that this strike–as with so many others–seems more about ego than about attaining practical results. Maybe it’s the relentless media coverage: clearly journalists–who, after all, write for a living–think it’s far more interesting when other writers strike than, say, teachers or janitors who have gone more than a year without a contract.
Yes, it seems clear that the producers are being greedy and ridiculous when they deny writers a share of online royalties, as though they weren’t making money hand-over-fist from web-based ad revenues. But neither side is exactly covering itself in glory, and meanwhile the rest of the country is subjected to the spectacle of rich people and richer people whining about one another–that and American Gladiator.
If the strike has shown me anything, it’s that Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are both enormously talented and perfectly capable of creating gems without their writers, despite their protestations to the contrary. And since they’re both Jewish (no seriously, check the link), that’s something I can really feel proud of.