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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: July ::
Re: Exploitation of Actors
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1365  Friday, 7 July 2000.

[1]     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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        Date:   Thursday, 6 Jul 2000 14:29:01 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1353 Re: Exploitation of Actors

[2]     From:   Pat Dolan <
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        Date:   Thursday, 06 Jul 2000 09:31:22 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1360 Re: Exploitation of Actors

[3]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Thursday, 06 Jul 2000 10:43:48 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1360 Re: Exploitation of Actors

[4]     From:   Werner Broennimann <
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        Date:   Fri, 07 Jul 2000 08:50:32 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1338 Re: Exploitation of Actors

[5]     From:   Robert J. Matter <
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        Date:   Friday, 07 Jul 2000 04:20:32 -0500
        Subj:   Re: Exploitation of Actors


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
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Date:           Thursday, 6 Jul 2000 14:29:01 +0100
Subject: 11.1353 Re: Exploitation of Actors
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1353 Re: Exploitation of Actors

Michael Meyers explains the labour market

> It's simple, people who persists in working in an area
> with too much supply get market wages -- nothing more,
> nothing less.   Be they actors or educators, this is not
> exploitation, but the market fairly reacting to the over
> supply of labor.

If the labour market operates "fairly", are women are paid a lot less
than men because there are far more women than men? You should tell the
census office.

Gabriel Egan

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Pat Dolan <
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Date:           Thursday, 06 Jul 2000 09:31:22 -0500
Subject: 11.1360 Re: Exploitation of Actors
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1360 Re: Exploitation of Actors

> Pat Dolan wrote:
>
>> Union membership is mandatory for all who make commercials, including
>> athletes.

I didn't write it. I passed it on from USA Today. I was unclear about
that. Sorry.

The mandatory union membership was negotiated by the union and employers
under collective bargaining in a country whose legislation can hardly
(in my view) be characterised as friendly toward organised labour.

Given the necessity of patronage for Shakespeare's company and the
hostility of various sorts of legislation to playing, it's hard for me
to see the situation of his company as equivalent to a publicly traded
corporation. It strikes me as more analogous to a professional
partnership, like a law firm or a faculty. If that's the case, the
question of exploitation becomes truly vexed. I know that associates in
law firms feel exploited and lord knows they work long hours, but some
of them start at six figures and have huge upsides to their eventual
earnings. Tenure track assistant professors work like dogs to churn out
text, but any number of people line up for the gig.  Not to mention
adjuncts and other rent-a-profs. (I confess that I'm powerless to
overcome my addiction to teaching. Maybe I should twelve step?) So
what's exploited? Nike points out that while its workers in Indonesia
may be young and ill-paid by our standards, they make more money than
others in their society.

I think the whole discussion leads to a consideration of the nature of
work in sixteenth/seventeenth century England. I can't see "jobs" or
"careers" in the period, if what we mean is the same thing we mean of
today.

Does anyone know precisely the scope of the labour laws specifying the
length of the work day in Elizabethan England? I assume players weren't
covered.

I can't resist passing along a provocation which is visited on me with
some frequency: my wife, member of a union and Ph.D. candidate, thinks
tenure is a much bigger scam.

I honestly don't know.

Patrick.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Thursday, 06 Jul 2000 10:43:48 -0700
Subject: 11.1360 Re: Exploitation of Actors
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1360 Re: Exploitation of Actors

Pat Dolan writes that

> If you assume that the market has a reality beyond human intervention,
> that it arises out of immutable laws of human nature and social
> organisation, then it's neither fair nor unfair, but we've got to deal
> with it.

As someone who favours this solution, I'd like to point out that your
other solution, to view the market purely as a human creation and tool
is subtly undermined by your metaphor later on:

> Just because we have hammers doesn't mean
> we have to treat everything as a nail. We could make iMacs.

The phenomenology of a tool (as I understand it) rather implies treating
everything at something to be "handled".  Sure, we could make iMacs or,
better, bicycles for the underprivileged, but we'd still be
participating in the logic of materialism, by which things are
fundamentally grasped and handled, and by which philosophy begins with
the power of the agent.

What we should do, I think, is return to the question of what higher
ends we can serve by participation in the material world in the first
place.  What calls us, from outside our acquisitive, powerful selves?
Why are we not just acquisitive little automatons, driven by wants?
Having asked this, we might, without undertaking the literally Utopian
task of overturning the market, find ways to manipulate it to higher
social ends--like by forming a union, for instance, or by building
infrastructures that alter its dynamics, empowering those who are now
crushed by its inhuman logic.

Cheers,
Se

 

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