Following is a letter to the editor printed in yesterday's LA Times regarding the new film John Q. As exciting as the film industry can be at times, it is important for everyone to remember that it is still an industry like any other, be it for automobiles, clothing, or computer components. Southern California has always been the hub of this industry, providing a home base for the executives in charge as well as the "blue-collar" workers who actually get in the trenches to make the movies...until now. Actually, for the past 5 or so years, for various reasons including NAFTA, those above-the-line (executives, A and B actors, directors, producers) have gotten continually richer while the rest of us have scrapped by in an attempt to just stay alive. So while it may sound "exotic" for movies to "go out into the world" to shoot the shots that are needed, all too frequently it is for no other reason than to "save money" for the studios so that they can line their own pockets with the growing profits at the box office...at the expense of the American worker not to mention the "foreigner's" who are paid far less than they should be for the same hard work that we have been doing here for over 50 years. The workers in every country are being cheated by the suits. That's the background for the following letter:

Los Angeles Times, Saturday, February 16, 2002 Section F, page 6
Letters: Looking at Some Recent Movies and the Hypocrisy of ‘John Q’

I recently had the opportunity to see an advance screening of the new Denzel Washington film, “John Q,” the story of a blue-collar family whose insurance won’t cover their son’s heart transplant. Not only did the film have more expository dialogue than the owner’s manual for the space shuttle, it was a slap in the face for any American without adequate health insurance, myself included.

One of the lessons learned in becoming an adult is that life is full of hypocrisy. This is especially true in the entertainment industry. As a member of the human race and of the entertainment industry, I accept that. But this film and the filmmakers are so hypocritical, J. Edgar Hoover looks like a straight shooter in comparison. In truth, it would laughable if it were not so cruel.

The film serves up a litany of facts and figures to drive home the point of how terrible the American health-care system is — a fact many of us know all too well. Without insurance in America, you cannot get the care you need. Without a full-time job, you are not eligible for complete coverage, and that’s if your employer even offers health insurance.

The hypocrisy of all this is that the film was shot in Canada. Hey, caring filmmakers, how many men and women here in Southern California will not qualify for benefits this year because they were unable to work the required hours to be eligible? Did anyone on the set even think of this when the lead character complains he cannot get enough hours because so many jobs have gone to Mexico?

As a person who works in the film industry and has not qualified for insurance for years, this was nothing more than adding salt to an open wound. An injury I am sure insurance doesn’t cover.

Jesse Harper
Los Angeles