BURBANK, CALIFORNIA — Amnesty International and the Writers Guild released a joint report yesterday that provides shocking details about Hollywood’s use of so called Indentured Writers Rooms: flop houses where groups of young, white men are held against their will and forced to write superhero movies. More common every year, studios sponsor these rooms through shadow production companies in order to create content for the global audience’s insatiable appetite for comic book based films.
With profits last year just shy of 3 billion, studios are feeling the pressure to continue gathering box office receipts; but they’re slowly realizing the movies are essentially the same plot over and over. The Indentured Writers Rooms serve as a hive mind for new plots and characters.
The latest room was discovered last week when Hazam Khalid delivered twenty pizzas to a condemned frat house located in the remote outskirts of Burbank. He alerted authorities after he saw the shocking conditions inside the home. “It was horrifying,” said Khalid. “There were empty pizza boxes and cans of Red Bull everywhere. The smell of marijuana and Axe body spray was overpowering.”
Detainees were interviewed by crisis counselors and a chilling pattern emerged as to how these young, exclusively white, straight men were coerced into creating the next tent pole superhero movie.
Inevitably, it begins with the new arrivals. Every year, thousands of straight white men arrive in Hollywood with beards, baseball caps, chunky glasses and a dream: to be the next JJ Abrams. Many of their parents have disowned them, convinced that, through tough love, they will come back to their hometowns and get sensible jobs. Often the young men live in valley apartments that are far beyond capacity. “My high school friend said I could sleep on the couch as long as I refilled the weed supply,” said one abductee. “They kicked me out after a month. I had nowhere else to go.”
Jerry (not his real name) described how he was recruited. “My uncle Marty got me a summer internship at a production office in the Valley. It was simple at first; just getting coffee and running errands. Then they asked me to assist in development.” Things escalated quickly from there. Jerry was asked what he thought of different potential plots. “Then they found out I read comics as a kid and started asking me about what I thought of different origin stories. It was flattering, I guess. I wanted to write movies all my life.” Soon he was staying late, neglecting his night bartending job and declining invitations from friends. “I got evicted. That’s when they told me about the house.”
Typically, there is someone from the studio on site at all times to keep the young men compliant with pot and beer. They also make sure the men are working. “They told us we weren’t going to get more beer unless we came up with things like new catch phrases and superheroes.” He added, “None of my ideas were ever good enough: Caterpillar Man, Melvin the Mule-boy, Superdude.” Then the punishment would come: wifi would be shut off and video game systems would be locked away. The only diversion offered to them was a hardcopy of Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth.
Some managed to escape by finding replacements. Silverlake junction was a popular area for potential targets. “You’d be surprised how many of those douche bags hanging around Intelligentsia Coffee Shop don’t have actual jobs,” said Jerry. “All we had to do was mention a development deal and they came willingly.”
It’s only through advocacy and awareness that these rooms will eventually be shut down and lives will be saved but not before more dreams are shattered. “I never thought something like this would happen to me,” said one survivor. “I’m going back home to marry my high school sweetheart and work at Radio Shack.”