Archive for March 14, 2012

Starbucks bans Screenwriters…!

Image Typewriter  III

The reasons provided are new – the vindication is old – one of them being, that writers sport “a desperate and depressing air” that is not becoming of the image of a Starbucks!! Hear hear!

One would say, thanks to the current economic ill-winds that are sweeping this nation it is not hard for anybody, to have “a depressing and desperate air”, these days. Why single out writers? Perhaps, the allegation suggests that writers project more of it than the rest of the population, if that be so, God save us all from those unholy types that help sustain – in part – a multi billion dollar-a-year industry. Way to go!

One understands and sympathizes with the fact that ultimately it all boils down to profits and yet, how “desperate” an act of piecing together a scrappy corporate ideology in a sad attempt to boost the sagging bottom line of one company does that single policy exhibit? Dear American consumer, let us all unite in knocking down those that do not look, act or exhibit buying habits, similar to the rest of general populace. No matter, that condemning a well-established social prototype – a fixture of the coffee shop culture seen all over the world – to extinction, seems a good idea under the circumstances.

What one doesn’t understand however, is how these “desperate” creative types would be identified and weeded out…”banned” ….as the company clearly states? This puts the company in a virtual no man’s land – a slippery slope of adopting sweeping policies that overreach in terms of discrimination and prejudice towards a particular group, in this case, profession. Perhaps the company is losing sight of the fact that writing happens to be a legitimate and if not always a revenue boosting profession, in Los Angeles and other little pockets of creative exercise around the world it is a staple, a universal fixture, for better or for worse. Starbucks’ “internal research” claims “it couldn’t find evidence of a good script ever having actually been written by anyone sitting in a Starbucks” and said the majority of writers use their venues to “play Words With Friends” on their laptops instead of writing. Just curious about the source of this “research”. Did it come from looking over the writer’s shoulder to spy on the progress of their “work”….? One wonders!

It looks more like, Starbucks, as a company is directing its hostility towards a particular group with the argument that Writers are unproven as a legitimate revenue generating profession. In that case, may one direct their attention to a certain young woman whose early relationship with coffee shops eventually led to a billion dollar franchise with a now multi millionaire literary personality as the fountainhead. There’s no doubting that together JKR and HP has clearly etched a place in the history of not just British, but global popular culture for all generations to come, irrespective of whether or not you sit down to analyze how it affects the bottom-line of a particular American company.

Perhaps the argument is for the fact that writers may write in coffee shops and produce brilliant (or otherwise) revenue earning work, but they do not do so, while at Starbucks. I agree, the overcrowded, noisy, often times school-kid infested venues seem ill-conceived to produce inspiring work of any creative standards. A note to fellow writers: perhaps long overdue is the need to say goodbye to those uninspiring surroundings and move to the little cafe down the road where it is quieter and the coffee is priced right. Take your laptops where creativity actually stands a chance…..and finish that screenplay! While writers will always be around, with or without an air of “despondence”, however, the scary fact is that prompted by economic stagnancy, one company somehow seems able to impose limits on a public pursuit in a way that once was thought impossible in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave!