As the Writer's Strike of 2007 enters the new year, Americans could be subjected to a wide assortment of alternatives from the network broadcasters. TIME magazine recommended BBC America replacements such as the British version of the Office, along with an alternate reality version of Desperate Housewives. Whatever the country is ultimately faced with, the television we once knew is bound to be affected as it was during the previous Writer's Strike of 1988.
Regardless of the fact that underdog shows such as Seinfeld received national attention, the reigns of "Entertainment Power" remained largely unaffected. Even with new formats of governmental criticism from the likes of the Daily Show, the same studios received even more money from the same "two party" system, resulting in the same Presidential Candidates from the previous elections. And the same people got rich while the same people got ignored, leading the same country down the same path it has been on for over half a century.
But the writers have realized something important in the Capitalistic experiments of Radiohead and the Talking Heads: that profits from Internet sales managed to rival those of the traditional system of selling their rights to the networks. Should the writer's decide to take their entertainment directly to the people through "Internet Channels," "webcasts" such as I am Ninja could become the norm (given that the latest season has managed to earn advertising dollars from Dorritos). The only missing component is the hardware.
This is where you and I come into play.
Consider for a moment that the Writer's Guild of America represents a 'mere' 12,000 writers. This means that 12,000 people could potentially affect the way you and I view our entertainment. Most of us realize that mainstream media (or 'MSM' for short) controls more than our entertainment; they control which products we choose from, and which candidates we elect to vote for at the poll booths. In simple terms, MSM limits our options to those who give them the most money. 12,000 people could turn our heads towards an entirely Democratic system of news and entertainment.
The problem is that a majority of Americans receive their edutainment through controlled set-top boxes that elect to broadcast a limited range of channels. Receiving the "new" Internet "channels" is only available to a limited number of broadband subscribers who actually take the time to watch their favorite shows online. Popular alternatives such as Apple TV elect to control the entertainment through their own privately held revenue system, while Open Source alternatives such as Democracy TV (now called Miro) lack a popular television component to satisfy the average viewer.
The next 12,000 of us need to find the simple solution which enables our grandparents setup and use a "set top device" that allows them to access shows of their own choosing. Once the hardware is in place, the ultimate increase in Writer's pay -- along with the inevitable affects to broadcast television -- will become irrelevant. Those who employ the new hardware will be able to receive their standard network broadcasts through websites such as Hulu (as well as from the dedicated YouTube rippers). In practical terms, the owners of the new devices will be able to explore a whole new world of news and entertainment.
But we must dedicate ourselves to this task, and spread this message so that the next 12,000 hardware and software developers might unite in a follow-up to the Writer's Strike of 2007. Let us call it the Viewer's Strike of 2008. Let us unify our skills to produce an Open Source product which will give the viewer's the final decision, and may the rest of us commit ourselves to their efforts by recommending or outright buying these devices and setting them up in the homes of our loved ones. Let them know that the Viewer's Strike is not about revenues, but the conscious act to restore Democracy to the United States of America.
(One final note to the underdogs of the upcoming elections: Consider the Viewer's Strike of 2008 to be a valuable part in your bid for the presidency. Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich, and Mike Gravel have tasted the bitter rejection of mainstream media, and their supporters have given them millions of dollars to spread their message through traditional formats. Consider the alternative, and give those dollars back to the people by supporting the Viewer's Strike of 2008. Help us ensure that every American will have access to a "Fair and Balanced" news source that they can truly trust.)