Netflix, income inequality, and the Golden Age of TV

This loops back round to video games because of the often promoted idea that game developers should model work contracts more on the Hollywood contract system, but is also worth discussing as labour rights for the entertainment we enjoy (and may promote as Waypoints).

This section stood out to me as something I’d not fully understood about exactly how the gig system works:

Hollywood operated on the principles of the gig economy well before it became fashionable, and talent has relied on those supplemental payments as a potential cushion in between jobs. (In addition, unlike in most of the creative economy, Hollywood employment means paying out the managers, agents, and lawyers who may have assisted you in securing it.)
“If I was on a [network show like] Community, I would have been paid as a series regular,” Becker says. “But they didn’t make me a series regular, they made me a recurring guest star and paid me a daily rate. If I’d been number five on an NBC show, I’d be making $30,000 a week, but I was making $980 a week [at Netflix]. By the time you pay out taxes, your manager, agent, and lawyer, I was walking away with like $200.”

Lots of ground covered in the article and it’s well worth reading some of the views of people working inside this “golden age of TV”. Thoughts or insights? (There’s probably also room for the eternal topic of game development labour rights and how it compares to this very different model, outside of the current topics mainly rotating around Rockstar Games.)


I’ll readily admit I don’t know as much about labor as other waypointers do, so don’t expect any insights, but it’s interesting/sad to see that even in industries known for having unions new tech/“disruptors” find ways to screw people money-wise. And it gets back into the whole “ethical consumption” thing-- not like you can reasonably boycott Netflix at this point.

I wonder what game residuals would look like? I’d be cool if, say, people who worked on NES games get a cut of nes classic/ virtual console sales. To have residuals you’d probably have to credit everyone who works on the game first though?


Something I’ve learned from the film industry is that any widespread reputation of “prestige” or “golden ages” is guaranteed to come from propagandists trying to establish/maintain exploitable hierarchy under a guise of free expression. The Oscars started as union-busting conservative bullshit and all their current bullshit ain’t a coincidence with that legacy, the Roman Polanskis and Woody Allens of the world still get work solely because of “prestige”, Netflix exploits loopholes in standards set by a different era because they stumbled into an only-recently-viable idea first, and their still relatively young and unregulated service gets to now exist in environments where regulations are stigmatized anyway.

I find it funny to think about how games and gamerfans have tried seeking validation from the film industry for so long now. Even when people critique as much, they tend to frame it as if the film industry isn’t its own nightmare mess of awful life-devastating bullshit and conservative shitheads that despise laborers, but it 1000% is.

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