John Rogers Profile picture
Mar 8, 2021 7 tweets 2 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
1) A quick thread on what we, in TV writing, call the Idiot Ball. This is a term used to describe when one character, in order to make the show work, has to behave, uncharacteristically, like a complete idiot. It is usually a different character each week.
2) This term was coined, I heard, by actor Hank Azaria, who was complaining about a show he was on and asked "who's carrying the idiot ball this week?" The modern conservative intellectual movement is now reduced to passing around the idiot ball.
3) Dr. Seuss is this week's idiot ball, and in order to be part of the show, you have to carry it. You have to make bad faith or stupid arguments to be part of the show. The difference is, now, *everybody* has to pass the idiot ball around, all episode.
4) Freedom Fries. Antifa. Dr. Seuss. Millions of missing ballots. Neanderthals. Ordinarily smart people have to pretend to be earnestly dumb and make idiotic arguments about each of these, or be tossed from the show.
5) Ross absolutely knows that this was a decision by the rights holder to pull books with illustrations which are racist by even lax standards. This is their right, and is actually just smart capitalism. But he has to carry the Idiot Ball.
6) So now, you have the shorthand. Whenever you hear some ridiculous fake scandal or outrage, you can just chalk it up to "Oh, it's this week's Idiot Ball" and it says everything you need to know about both the subject, and the person carrying it.
7) But remember, the ball's just the ball. The person carrying it's the idiot.

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More from @jonrog1

May 7
1) Okay, we did "You have writers on set for dialogue" and now we're going to do "we have writers on set for TRAINING."
2) My Dad, on his first visit to a set, after an hour of watching, said "Oh, it's like a construction site, but once an hour good looking people wander through" and goddam I have never topped that.
3) I have written this before: a showrunner is both the lead creative voice of a piece of art and is the head of a company with a burn rate of $3-10 million a week, 200 -500 employees, with unmissable deadlines. Always at the same time.
Read 23 tweets
May 7
1) There have been a couple threads today about the importance of having writers on set, and a lot of them have focused on last minute changes to to physical locations, story continuity, etc, but there are two other reasons I want to hit a) dialogue and b) training
2) It's not just "don't say X, we find out Y three episodes from now", props, etc, but dialogue is art coming out of unpredictable humans. I always say I choose both writing staffs and actors like a jazz combo -- you're here to play an instrument *I can't play*.
3) There are shows where the writers are considered automatons -- play the score, etc, there was one show where you had to call upstairs to change a "cannot" to a "can't", but I like it when you play one by the text, and then find the reason we cast YOU and not ... not You.
Read 17 tweets
May 4
1) Non-members ask how they can show solidarity with the Writers Strike. The most effective way is to donate to the Entertainment Community Fund. It's NOT for us, it's to support fellow Hollywood employees, crew who may suffer hardship due to the strike.…
2) Choose "Film and Television" in the drop down menu. *This donation is tax deductible*. We writers have our Strike Fund, and the Good and Welfare fund. We're asking supporters to aid those we work with.
3) If you would like to make a more substantial donation, DM me and I'll send you that contact info. Thank you all, I'm pleasantly surprised by all the interest from those not in the industry in this strike.
Read 4 tweets
May 4
It was a great night, stunning to see every labor union in Hollywood represented in the room, but if there's one message from the night, when Lindsay Dougherty of Teamsters Local 399 runs for Governor, people are gonna go to the barricades for her. Damn, what a speech.
Joking aside, it was a memorable night, and the NegComm spoke eloquently about the open disdain with which our reasonable demands were treated. We don't want to be here, but here we are, just like the writers who came before us.
Writers didn't start this fight, but we'll damn sure finish it. #WGAStrong
Read 4 tweets
May 2
An under-rated part of our current media company dynamic, that's led to this strike, is how miserable the execs *within* these companies are. They hate this new system as much as we do.
The plural of anecdote is not data, but the advantage of being in the business 25 years is that I have exec friends who have risen through the ranks. We have lunches. And I sit there and listen.
Each one explains the unbelievable dysfunction at their particular workplace, the bosses who don't understand or even like scripted entertainment, the open scorn with which they hold the execs who've actually made television.
Read 9 tweets
May 2
1) Something (very stupid) you’re going to see over the next weeks are people arguing that screenwriters are being unreasonable. “Times have changed”. No. Times WERE changed. By SOMEBODY. By PEOPLE, making CHOICES.
2) There’s an unfortunate tendency in modern American thought to write about economies, or markets, like they’re the weather. Like they’re natural phenomena, you know, “ market forces”, the invisible hand, etc, shit just happens, can’t be helped!
3) Bullshit. Economies, markets, are products of human thought. They are shaped by the rules we place upon them and distorted by the will of those who operate within them.
Read 16 tweets

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