Four years ago, L.A. supermarkets demanded rollbacks from their employees ... and the employees (surprise, surprise) went on strike.
Eventually the strike got settled, but the supermarkets have never been the same. I walk into Ralphs or Pavillions these days, and it's like, quiet. Lots of former customers went off and discovered the joys of Trader Joe's, and never returned.
Which brings us to the wrestling match now being staged by the AMPTP and the WGA. Internet mogul Marc Andreesen watches the slow mo negotiations and month-old strike with a jaundiced eye:
Scripted television production is already all but shut down. Most late-night talk shows are shut down. Most remarkably, many comedy and drama series are either already shut down or will be within the next several weeks.
What are the probable long-term consequences of an extended strike?
First, ongoing alienation of a new generation of TV viewers ...
Second, driving consumers even faster to the new range of activities they can engage in ...
Third, and most significantly: catalyzing faster development of new business models for entertainment media ...
Kind of like what happened in the supermarket's quest to lower costs on the backs of market employees.
Even more like the record industry trying to cling to its old model of music distribution via $16 CDs -- until every teenager in the country got fed up and began downloading the music they wanted over the internet. For free.
Nine years ago, I listened to a music industry lawyer proclaim that the music industry as it had existed for most of the 20th century was over, finished, kaput. It had decided to cling to its old method of selling recorded music while suing its customer base.
And so was in the process of commiting suicide.
A decade further on, the old record companies are pretty much dead. (Latest bit of evidence: The Eagles by-passed the Capitols, Warner Bros. and Elektras for their new album, put it on the internet and the shelves of Wal-Mart without any middlemen, and collected most of the boodle themselves.)
Marc Andreesen thinks that Tinsel Town is now sliding down the same greased chute. Sooner rather than later, we'll get to see if he's right.