Friday 22 October 2010

Jackson's Wounded Pride

"Now listen here you bloody orcs!" Nothing is more wounding to the charismatic leader than the perceived "disloyalty" of those given the privilege of serving him. For Sir Peter Jackson, NZ Actors Equity are nothing but a brood of ungrateful extortionists. Is he about to punish them by taking The Hobbit offshore?

IT’S BEEN UGLY. The news media has been calling it an "industrial dispute", but more and more evidence is emerging that the furor over the production of The Hobbit has been almost entirely of Sir Peter Jackson’s own making.

The CTU President, Helen Kelly, summed up the feelings of those most closely involved in the controversy when she accused Jackson of behaving "like a spoiled brat".

Like so many egotistical and paternalistic business tycoons before him (Andrew Carnegie springs to mind) Jackson has been willing to go to extraordinary lengths to prevent his employees from either joining or forming a union. (That’s right, I said "employees", because no matter what the film industry bosses say, that’s exactly what actors and technicians working on a long-term project like The Hobbit are.)

Men like Jackson demonstrate what the founder of sociology, Max Weber, called "charismatic leadership". At the heart of this, the most ancient form of leadership, is the concept of loyalty.

For the charismatic leader the intense bond of personal fealty is all-important. Those who follow the charismatic leader do so because he has demonstrated extraordinary ability. He is a superior being, and that not only gives him the right to lead, but also imposes a moral obligation on all "lesser beings" to follow.

The trade union is thus the mortal enemy of the charismatic leader – even though it recognises, albeit tacitly, his singular power and authority. Against this "one", argues the union, we must counterpose the "many".

The union is thus – in Weberian terms – a manifestation of the most modern, "rational-legal", form of authority. It is a collective method of goal-setting and decision-making, based on rules and processes set in place not at the whim of a single individual, but through the democratic deliberation of the group. In place of the intense emotional bond linking the charismatic leader to his followers, the trade union substitutes the even stronger bonds of solidarity.

It is surely no accident that Jackson made his reputation translating the work of J.R.R. Tolkien to the big screen. For what is Tolkien’s great trilogy if not a marvelous, magical, but essentially anachronistic evocation of the charismatic and traditional forms of leadership which, even in Tolkien’s childhood, were fast disappearing from the Western world?

In his own eyes, Jackson is a Gandalf, an Aragorn, a Boromir figure: a person full of intrinsic power. By challenging that power: by telling him that such "lesser beings" as actors possess an equal right to shape the world in which they live and work; Actor’s Equity has struck a blow at the very heart of Jackson’s self-perception – and he is fighting back.

He’s not alone. Around Jackson’s banner have gathered every solipsistic libertarian geek, every Ayn Rand devotee, and every National and Act Party voter yet to fathom that while it is often the charismatic entrepreneur who begins the great tales of capitalism, it is the rational-legal or "bureaucratic" modern corporation that finishes them.

No wonder, then, that Actors Equity is being assailed by the Weta Workshop technicians. There is a world of difference between the clever boys and girls who work alone in front of a computer screen, and those quintessential collectivists –actors. The English language has for centuries possessed a collective noun for "a troupe" of actors. It has yet to find one for CGI wizards.

The deep prejudices that so many New Zealanders harbour against trade unions speak eloquently of the "rugged individualism" so intrinsic to the Anglo-Saxon settler cultures. For these folk, New Zealand was the place in which their "extraordinariness" was bound to be seen more plainly than in the overcrowded homeland. It was to be the place where little men became big.

The idea that a man only reaches the heights by climbing on to the backs of other men simply didn't occur to them.

This country will never reach its full potential until it finally enters the modern age and accepts that the corporation and the union – both of which are founded on the principle of rational-legal authority – are brothers under the skin. The most progressive elements in our society have always known this. As the late Bruce Jesson shrewdly observed: "National knows how to govern for capitalists, but only Labour knows how to govern for capitalism."

I fear that day is a long way off. Listening this morning to Radio New Zealand’s Geoff Robinson, with all the treakly sanctimony of a reactionary Anglican parson, bestow his blessing upon a breakaway "union" of scab actors, was a truly dispiriting experience. It reminded me that when Sid Holland’s National Government brought in the 1951 Emergency Regulations suspending (among many other rights and liberties) the freedom of the press, not one of the editors of the 170 newspapers then published in New Zealand was willing to risk jail by challenging the State’s right to censor the news media.

Radio New Zealand is to be congratulated, however, for broadcasting the interview with Steve Zeitchik of the Los Angeles Times. Zeitchik’s answers to Patrick O'Meara's questions concerning the fate of The Hobbit strongly suggested that in releasing a statement confirming last-minute doubts about the film’s ultimate location, Warner Brothers were simply humouring their temperamental, tantrum-throwing Kiwi producer.

It is now very clear that if the production of The Hobbit does go offshore, it will be entirely the decision of the charismatic Sir Peter Jackson’s wounded pride.


Nick said...

Its funny how a nerd splatter movie making kid has turned into a "charasmatic" leader. The proceeds of the LOTR were utilised by PJ (forget the Sir epithet) to build a large country estate during which time he showed his "power" by ignoring the powers of the local council (RMA) to divert a river to fill up his lake. Which might indicate he is "above" us.

One intriguing question, who in your opinion uisng the standards set in your article, would be the Darker Lord, P Jackson or FP Walsh?

Chris Trotter said...

Good question, Nick!

To: Gosman.

Warg-riders from The Standard's commentary thread will be slain at the border.

Victor said...

An interesting and perceptive piece, Chris.

As an immigrant myself, I can recognise the sense of individualism and extraordinariness to which you refer.

It's an inherent part of moving to a new country, apparently taking your destiny in your own hands and starting from scratch, without many of the familiar social and institutional lodestars.

With most newcomers, it wears off after a time and is, anyhow, often mediated by family, communal and other ties.

Even so, a whole colony largely (though never exclusively) comprised of would-be rugged individuals is bound to have left a profound mark on the culture of the country that subsequently emerged.

That's also true, of course, about the United States and Australia. However, New Zealand's economy is rather more restrained by size, distance, population and lack of resources.

As a result, after the first few generations of European settlement, most of our rugged individualists simply became accountants, property developers, wealth manipulators and business service operators, whilst still cherishing the illusion of themselves as heroic ground-breakers.

As to genuinely charismatic leaders per se, there will obviously be moments in history when they are invaluable. But those moments pass very quickly.

Anonymous said...

has anyone really had a close look at peter jacksons movies?

king kong 2010 for instance...bad acting (jack black for gods sake)...poor production values and crappy CGI effects...same goes for the Rings movies...i`ve heard many complaints from punters about the tacky special effects and threadbare production values...but hey, its made in little old its gotta be good for you...and the flow of NZ tax dollars via peter jackson to overseas corporate Warner bros can`t be bad can it?

Anonymous said...

"Breakaway union of scab actors" is a bit inflammatory when you look at the size of Actors Equity alongside the size of the acting fraternity in NZ. Just because they came first doesn't mean they are the legitimate representatives. The fact that they have such a small membership and so many actors aren't interested in joining perhaps indicates just how unrepresentative they are... and the fact that they needed to prop themselves up by aligning with MEAA.

Cnr Joe said...

anon @ 2.17 - quite - since the Frighteners he's only made American movies - can't bring myself to see his Bones
we've had a good run w the lotr - please could Sir Jackson go lord it over Poland, turn them into a backlot of hollywood - and let them revel in his fuzzy hollywood glow for years to come
let someone else become the next 'kiwis with iphones'

Jason Payn said...

Nice one 11 Academy Awards must be wrong. Suck it up you guys. Just 'cause Sir Pete has come good and left the left after understanding commercial realities, you don't need to assasinate the guy. Get a Grip...after all, you might not be able to if AE get their way and screw the industry in New Zealand.

markus said...

Absolutely. It's difficult not to feel angry at the tactics deployed by Jackson and his entourage. (Personally, I've never much cared for his films, either. They seem to be aimed squarely at the 13-year-old geek brigade).

On the "deep prejudices that so many New Zealanders harbour against Trade Unions...":

I've recently been analysing a variety of Opinion Polls and Surveys from the 1970s and 1980s. Amongst which are a number canvassing attitudes towards Trade Unions. The question most often asked was essentially along the lines of: Are Unions too powerful ? / Are Unions behaving responsibly ? / Do you approve of Stike action ? Over that whole period, a fairly consistent large-to-overwhelming 65%-75% majority took an anti-union line, responding yes unions are too powerful/are irresponsible/no I do not approve of strikes.

However, a few of these polls then went on to ask a second question: essentially, Do you believe unions have an important part to play in modern society ? A consistent (though smaller) 55%-60% majority across these polls said: Yes they do.

So, to extrapolate, it seems that during the 1970-1990 period, (1) roughly 30% of New Zealanders both approved of unions and their tactics/degree of power, (2) about 40% disapproved of both, and (3) the remaining 30% approved of unions playing an important role in society, and yet essentially preferred them relatively toothless.

Adze said...

Are you serious?

Jackson and Boyens have both said several times they're not anti-union. And they've introduced residuals payments for The Hobbit that are even more generous than ones enjoyed by union collective contracts, without being prompted with industrial action. His workers (or employees if you insist) seem to love working under him.

And if capitalism is defined by corporates in business as well as labour, why are non-union workers given the pejorative label "scabs" instead of "competition"?

I enjoy some of your writing Chris but you've missed the mark here.

Anonymous said...

Mr Trotter - In my opinion, you are rationalising and intellectualising this out of recognition. If you want to get to the crux of the matter, the Hobbit movie is pretty much incidental. Essentially, Equity wants the same terms and conditions as afforded in places like the States, UK, etc. But wait - why do big international films come down here at all? To AVOID said terms and conditions. Rightly or wrongly, that's why they come. Believing it's for any other reason is naive. So why oh why would we want to put those same terms and conditions on our local industry, and therefore rule ourselves out of contention altogether? The claims that it's about respect and equality are utterly misguided.

Anonymous said...

oh dear....seems young helen kelly was telling the truth...and new line cinema was telling porkies...

Emails undermine studio's claims about Hobbit strikes...

Anonymous said...

love chris trotter to have the stones to call me a scab actor to my face...or in fact to any of the many actor/stunt worker friends of mine who
are sick of a few who never consulted with us deciding who and when we as individual contractors are allowed to work. He has no real clue it seems by his comments. Easy to just blog some Rhetoric to suit with no evidence. Hope we meet in the flesh some time chris......

Phil said...

Thank you for this most illuminating piece, Chris.
Today, I'm tired from the challenges of the good fight but spurred on by your observations, not to mention many of the responses from your readers. Thanks fair-minded and wise people of New Zealand! Your support is appreciated by us in the meat grinder.
Fear not though; our resolve is strong.



Anonymous said...

An interesting take Chris. If worker solidarity and unionism is part of a rational improving process, then I would have thought in a case like this that before the boycott there would be more communication with other potential actors - none of whom were yet engaged on the film, as well as crew and production - some of whom were already working on it. Instead we now have a battle of charismas, of Helen Kelly, a couple of actresses, (but not the official who called the ban) vs PJ and co. I have done paid theatre work, it is a big no no to be inconsiderate of the crew - a good production is almost defined by a lack of feeling of distinction between cast and crew other than for the different jobs they do of course. MEAA/Actors Equity may not have intended to, but they have cut across that solidarity from the outset in the way they have done things.

Anonymous said...

Cnr Joe said...
anon @ 2.17 - quite - since the Frighteners he's only made American movies - can't bring myself to see his Bones...

don`t bother mate...Bones bombed and was a box office many millions of NZ taxpayer funding went into that lemon?

RedLogix said...

"The proceeds of the LOTR were utilised by PJ (forget the Sir epithet) to build a large country estate during which time he showed his "power" by ignoring the powers of the local council (RMA) to divert a river to fill up his lake."

While I'm not making any excuse for Jackson's behaviour ... the 'river' mentioned above is really is a rather modest wee creek. The creek's a tiny tributary to the Waipoua River itself, which as I look over the back fence, still flows quite unmolested by Mr Jackson's little moat building fantasy a few km's upstream.

There're plenty of perfectly good ammo to fling at PJ without resorting to distortion.

Anonymous said...

"The CTU President, Helen Kelly, summed up the feelings of those most closely involved in the controversy when she accused Jackson of behaving "like a spoiled brat"."

I had to struggle to read on after that sentence Chris. Because I'd suggest most people involved and affected felt that this was an incredible overstatement on her part, not to mention a destructive, counterproductive thing to say. Even those who agree with her perspective, heck, even those who agree with the sentiment must recognise it was an idiotic thing to say.

Add to that the fact that as a non-film industry person the only point in bringing Ms Kelly in was to lend some much needed experience and professionalism to a body that had hitherto mishandled the situation entirely. And she comes out with that?

I'm a grandson of a '51 watersider and a lifetime Labour voter. But that doesn't mean I must side with any body with pretensions to unionism no matter how inept or misguided. A bad representative body must be challenged as forcefully as a bad employer, and that is something my fellow actors and I must attend to forthwith.

Mark Wilson said...

What worries me is the financial iliteracy across the left that this shambles demonstrates.

The first myth was that Warners created a conspiracy so they could find an excuse to move the Hobbit or to extract extra tax concessions. Warners don't need to find and excuse, they would have just up and left if they felt they could get a better deal elsewhere or they would have rung John Key to discuss the tax issue. To think they needed to waste valuable corporate time playing childish games is plain silly.

Warners are in NZ for one reason - Peter Jackson. NZ otherwise has nothing that can't be got elsewhere cheaper.

Another, as shown by some of the replies here,
was to denigrate the man and his movies. Results are all and his contribution to the economy is unmatched.

1951 was the result you get when you have unbridled union corruption. Certainly the government of the time trampled on a number of freedoms, but in response to the same by the left that were egregious enough that the majority of the population had had enough and
supported the government. The strike during the war by the well overpaid wharfies while NZ soldiers were being killed overseas fighting for their freedom comes to mind.

Two wrongs don't make a right but we saw the same abuse by the unions in the 60s with the same public supported backlash.

And now we are back there again.

The self appointed actors union made a decision to go nuclear without a mandate from anyone including their members and it blew up on them. Children fighting with adults.

The Len Brown victory was a false dawn for the left. A long long past it's use by date group of right candidates lead by Banks still managed to win the majority of seats on the various boards except for the Auckland Council. It was hardly a landslide given the total votes for Mayoral candidates on the right and the lack of appeal of the main right candidate. 3 seats on the the council of a different hue and the right win. And it is hard to immagine a more hopeless right ticket.
Like the last Auckland City Council but one it will get swept away next time as the rates go way up because of the waste and big spending. Remember the hip hop tour anyone?

The Labour lurch to the left is great news for the 30% who would vote for them no matter what, and is fabulous news for National, especially with such unpopular strikes as the teachers, radiographers, actors etc. Clark for all her control freak instincts at least knew that strikes are an election killer for Labour.

Anonymous said...

"No wonder, then, that Actors Equity is being assailed by the Weta Workshop technicians. There is a world of difference between the clever boys and girls who work alone in front of a computer screen, and those quintessential collectivists –actors."

Well you may be on to something regarding tech people and individualism but on the other hand using a phrase that has been bandied about for centuries as the basis for their differences in outlook is shallow in light of the fact that Actors Equity has less than 90 members.

As to Jackson being paternalistic and egotistic you're probably correct. But managing to make three movies at once (LOTR) requires an abnormal personality as opposed to running a cheese factory. If he can bring a $670 million investment then I'm willing to accept these character flaws because neither I nor you could perform the same feat.

PS you run a great line on delegitimising the valid claims of people who are simply trying to pay the bills.

My question is will you write an article on how this has damaged the CTU's reputation? You're bluntly honest about Labour election chances so I hope you will follow this up.

Anonymous said...

In my home province of Taranaki, oil and gas workers recently won pay parity with with Australian counterparts.

Quite frankly I cannot see Jackson doing that. We are better off losing our film industry and supporting industry which support REAL HIGH WAGE SECURE JOBS, not insecure low wage contracting jobs where workers are expendable.

And that, everyoneis why you will see more people queue up for jobs at the local freezing works or the dairy factory than at Peter Jackson's backlot (given to him by the Crown, of course). At least the primary produce sector pays the bills.

Federated Farmers can be real w**kers sometimes, but they are right about one thing. We are probably better at growing and processing protein and fibre more than anything else we tried.

Same with the manufacturing and export sector. If we want a high wage high skill economy, then the film industry is a noose around this country is. All it is is fear, low wages and inscecurity.

Anonymous said...

And Mark,

Can you please explain why you are so opposed to high wages and unions in this country?

Anonymous said...

And PJB,

I will gladly call you a scab actor to your face. It is people like you who are dragging down wages and conditions for everybody, not just those in the film industry, but across the board. Not everyone wants to be an contractor with low pay and no security, and wonder if they are still going to have an income after each day. Some people want to be employees with secuirty breaks and overtime pay.

Spiny Norman said...

My impression from the start has been that the production is and always was going to be going ahead here, and the rhetoric from both sides has been nothing much more than tactical posturing, albeit carried out more publicly than most. It's not as if the relatively minor proportion of the budget set aside for the featured (but not starring) actors is a make-or-break factor - The Hobbit project is widely expected to break all international box office records, after all.

It is rather rich that the technical folk are being portrayed as the reasonable and co-operative element here, as opposed to those bolshie actor types. In commercial situations (as opposed to shoestring budget shorts, etc), film crews are as hard-nosed and inflexible as any out-brothers-out union group. Just try to serve a less-than-restaurant-standard lunch, ask an idle grip to help out an overworked gaffer or simply expect everyone to go into overtime without consultation...

Actors, on the other hand, are usually so eager to play their part, they would pay for the privilege if not for their more worldly agents. (OK, allow me a little hyperbole here!)

In my eyes, the threats to move the production to a more compliant country have been more or less de-fanged by the very public nature of the controversy. Movies are routinely made on the cheap in non-unionised countries, of course, but this time the issue is in a very harsh spotlight - stars who agreed to take part in an Estonian or Burmese Hobbit would be seen as betraying their lesser light fellow actors. And the last thing Warner Bros and New Line need is a massive investment in a star-free or severely compromised production.

Greg NZ Independent Actors Guild said...

"scabs" is such a fantastic word to throw about from a distance isn't it?

In all the pro-union posturing here the true principles of solidarity with your fellow workers has been forgotten.

Film and television us a collaborative industry where the end product is created by the actions of so many more people than just the actors and they often forget this. They did in this case.

The proposed Guild, not a union, is looking for collaborative efforts across the industry as opposed to a minority of people threatening the right to work and livelihoods of many. This seems like workers solidarity to me.

Maybe wait and see what the new guild becomes before pontificating from a distance.

If Actors Equity had waited to see the contracts offered NZ Actors before acting out we might not be in this position

jh said...

My father told how he had been told by other workers that under Williamson Construction, Mr Williamson would stand there and if anyone straightened his back he would be fired. Later he was to call the crew on his ship "the most highly paid passengers in the country (NZ Seaman's Union)". The union's in key industries got spectacular renumeration but somehow it never got down to tea ladies or farm labourers. The fallacy is that all workers can just demand what they want or what they consider fair. Better to (for example) increase mobility (training) and look after the (urban) environment and make sure we all benefit from the land (land tax).

keef burtains said...

Isn't this really all about MEAA wanting to come over the ditch to clip 15% off the ticket of NZ Actors Hobbit Residuals?

Chris Trotter said...

"Scab" is a potent word, Greg, and not one with which any worker should ever risk himself being branded.

But, by attempting to establish a rival union, while a union of workers in your own industry is in the midst of an effort to improve its members' situation vis-a-vis their employers, that is what you have done.

There were a range of other options you and other groups of workers in the industry could have chosen at this time.

The most obvious of these would have been to lend your support to Equity and signal your willingness to initiate an all-out effort to establish a single organising centre, covering all the skill-sets involved in the making of a movie, when the current Equity-led negotiations were concluded.

Such a move would have served notice on the employers that other workers in the film and television industry were behind the actors, lending force to Equity's claims, and hastening the creation of a comprehensive, industry-wide agreement.

What you and others - most notably the workers associated with Weta Workshops - have done instead is allow yourselves to be used by the industry's employers to derail the efforts of Equity and the CTU.

This is no different - in effect - from crossing a picket-line or offering your services to an employer while his workers are out on strike.

There is only one word to describe someone who does this, Greg, and that word is, indeed, "Scab".

Nic Farra said...

There are two sides to Chris Trotter's dualistic view of the world: the correct one; Labour, union, Marxist and socialist, versus the incorrect one; libertarian, National, Ayn Rand and capitalist. In common with both these is the stabilising presence of government. With the 'correct' people in government, social, political and economic problems will be solved. In fact Mr Trotter is simply inviting us to name our poison. The Marxist of today, far from being a class warrior, is more likely to be a member of the professional classes, rationalising that identity with the working class struggle makes one , subjectively at least, working class. This sociological analysis is nonsense. Weberian ideal types, neatly adjusted to create standard bell curves, are woefully ignorant of reality.
The Libertarian of today is equally keen on government intervention, for who will regulate the interest rates, the invisible hand of the market, the conditions under which business can thrive if not the State or it's apparati?
To stir up hatred between technicians, who in Mr Trotter's world don't even bear the privilege of a collective noun (a coverage of techs? a rigging of techs?) and actors, to whom he ascribes the quaintly old fashioned term 'troupe' is to employ the classic division of labour viewpoint of 19th century leftism, which, along with capitalism, pits the unemployed worker against the employed, different 'classes' of worker in the same complex against one another. To serve whom? Authority. State. Leadership. Capitalist. Official. Mr Trotter may believe the international blacklist of The Hobbit was a democratic decision undertaken by the membership. The facts suggest it was at the instigation of the Director of Equity.
Tired old divisive politics of Mr Trotter's brand may quote their historical sources, he may yearn for the days of "Remember Waihi", but that blinkered view will only add confusion to the reality.

mark wilson said...

As I know Chris likes to keep things civil, may I say that it is just possible that the left wing arguments here are not of the highest intellectual order. For those who are particularly slow it's an anagram of oronicm.
Now that's civil isn't it?

Economics 101 - You cannot pay high salaries / wages unless you are making a high profit. If there are high risks to a project then those with the brains and capital to make it happen want a high potential return.

Some genius wants to know what is wrong with high wages. Nothing as long as you can find someone to pay them. Now that's the rub!

Carol said...

I've never particularly seen Peter Jackson as charismatic, but I have thought he is very good at working his own PR. I was very aware when LOTR was being made, that PJ cleverly worked the media (and new media) to give Kiwis a sense of ownership of LOTR. PJ's success is strongly linked to the rise of digitsation, neoliberalism, and economic globalisation. His successful self-marketing as kiwi icon was achieved by providing frequent interviews and set reports for the Kiwi media, as well as leaking information and videos from the set, to the online fan sites. Is this "charisma" or just clever and technologically-savvy PR?

It always seemed to me to be contradictory that he gave Kiwis a sense of ownership and manufactured heroic Kiwi identity via a product that was more a mix of UK & US culture. This also gave Hollywood studios strong leverage in the NZ culture, economy and workforce. There have been benefits for Kiwis from this, but the downside is being drawn more strongly within the US corporate and cultural network. At the same time it has been sold to us as relatively powerless, resource-poor and marginalised kiwis gaining some sort of victory in the big wide world.

When PJ found himself with a problematic situation recently, involving funding issues on the one hand, and international union pressures that were bound not to please the Warners corporate master on the other, PJ resorted to returning to his manipulation of the Kiwi masses. He drew on the mythical kiwi, corporatised and globalised identity that he had created in the past, to usurp the competing powers of international union solidarity and US corporates.

However, times are changing, many are less convinced of the wisdom of bowing to, or welcoming in Hollywood corporates in economically unstable times. While many still see PJ as the archetypal Kiwi hero, for others, his cultural cache has worn a bit thin. His maneuverings have become a bit obvious, and his hand-wringing a bit over-wrought. And many others have also learned to harness the networking powers of digital technologies.

Excessive PR and marketing seems to me to be strongly integrated in the neoliberal project, and it's a project that, while still being extremely powerful, is not working quite as well for the marketing meisters as it has in the past.

Unknown said...

I have always admired you as a writer and commentator Chris and share your views on most things - in fact you have often been the one commentator I can turn to to hear my thoughts and feelings expressed on a particular issue. But this instance you are just plain wrong. I hope, in a quiet moment, you re-read what you wrote in this piece. It's snide, envious and mean spirited and not worthy of someone such as yourself. Also, it does nothing to shed any new light on the issue. Can the Chris we all know and love and can read without cringing, please come back?

Anonymous said...

Heavenly creatures was a superb movie, revealing many truths under the kiwi rocks.
But surely Chris, Mr Jackson,the real Fran Walsh and Warners have to get their money back with the profit to give the LA investors the return. This isn't a lolly scramble or a donation to the NZ actors. Surely their no different from freelance writers, novelists, columnists of formula three drivers. Unless your beautiful, well connected or the best in the world you can't expect much.

peterpeasant said...

C'mon Chris you usually write sensible stuff.
Most of the time I tend to agree with you.

This post is not rational.

Chris Trotter said...

To: Nancy & Peterpeasant

The only irrational aspect to this whole issue is, I'm afraid, Sir Peter's behaviour.

Why did he refuse to negotiate with his workers?

Why did he release an "Open Letter" attacking them?

Why did he sabotage an agreement already concluded?

Why has he continually talked about taking The Hobbit offshore if he wanted to keep it in New Zealand?

Why has he politicised virtually every aspect of this production?

None of these actions by Sir Peter pass the rationality test.

What I attempted to do in this posting is offer some kind of explanation as to why a man of Sir Peter's undisputed talents is behaving in such a high-handed, mistrustful and generally counter-productive fashion.

Weber's ideas about leadership seemed to me to provide some valuable insights into the personal dynamics at work in this situation.

How do you explain his actions?

Anonymous said...

Very perceptive Chris. Another point is that when the deal to come to NZ was signed the NZD to USD was 0.65 and was slated by BNZ to go to 0.55. The rate now at 0.75 represents a 16% increase in expenses to Warner. According to an Ausi actors union spokesperson, interviewed by RNZ during the weekend, when the AUS:USD rate changed a couple of years ago the big US productions companies pulled the plug on producing movies in AUS as well. Maybe Jackson is representing the interest of the mouth that feeds him?