Striking writers and working women

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Depending on which media outlets you’re reading, you’re either convinced the writers’ strike is over, or you’re cautiously optimistic that it will be soon but you’re not counting your chickens just yet. Seems one former Disney exec has proclaimed the strike to be at an end. Unfortunately, Michael Eisner may not know exactly what he’s talking about. (Why does this come as no surprise to me?)

Eisner is quoted as saying, "I have some friends in certain places and I believe there was a handshake last Friday … it’s possible they (the writers) will turn it down but it would be insane if they turned it down." Call me a pessimist, but it sounds like posturing to me. His statements are being widely reported as confirmation that all is said and done, but that’s not exactly the truth of the matter. In fact, the WGA released its own statement earlier in the week, warning its membership to be wary of reports that claim a settlement is "imminent." For me, this yes-it’s-over-no-it-isn’t dance is frustrating. The writers are meeting on Saturday to go over the ins and outs of the current proposal, which is a good sign. But a handshake is not a signature on the dotted line.

All this workplace strife has me thinking of movies I love in which workers fought against the powers that be for what was fair and right. More specifically, I’m remembering movies in which women bucked the system for the betterment of not just themselves, but every other woman in the system. In the spirit of solidarity, I thought I’d share those films with you.

Let’s start with the classic Norma Rae, starring Sally Field.

Based on a true story of one woman’s efforts to unionize the workers at the textile mill where she worked, this was Field’s first Oscar-winning performance. (Her second speech was more memorable though.)

1983 brought us the brilliance of Meryl Streep and one of the best performances of Cher‘s career, all wrapped up in one depressing little package called Silkwood.

And did I mention it was penned by Alice Arlen and one Nora Ephron? All four women got Oscar nods for their work on the film.

I’m not a big fan of Melanie Griffith, but I loved her big hair and Bronx swagger in Working Girl.

I also loved Carly Simon‘s theme song. I wasn’t alone, apparently: Simon grabbed an Oscar for the song, while Griffith and Sigourney Weaver both received nominations for their roles in the film. The only disappointment for me? Joan Cusack needed more lines like this: "Sometimes I sing and dance around the house in my underwear. Doesn’t make me Madonna. Never will."

The true story of Erin Brockovich‘s fight against PG&E resulted in an Oscar for pretty woman Julia Roberts.

Screenwriter Susannah Grant got a nomination too.

Finally, I’ll throw in North Country, another true tale. And it’s close to my midwestern heart, since it’s set in northern Minnesota.

Charlize Theron looks good even when she’s covered in dust from the taconite mines. So does Frances McDormand. In fact, they looked so good, they both earned Oscar nominations.

These aren’t all of my favorites, of course, but they do have a common thread named Oscar (in case you hadn’t noticed). Why did I choose this unifying factor? Because despite my pessimistic side, I still hope Eisner is right and not just flapping his gums. That would mean Oscar night could go on as usual. And I’m all for that.

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