The section of 42nd Street directly below the glass-walled studio where MTV's Total Request Live is filmed is usually occupied by screaming fans of pop-music acts and MTV personalities, but at 3 p.m. today it was filled with nearly 300 MTV employees, who gathered outside the Viacom building to protest the drastic cuts the company is making to the benefit plans of its full-time freelancers. "The TRL people were all looking down at us," said one freelancer. "We booed them." They may have been angry, but the protesters weren't uncreative: They held aloft signs bearing twisted Viacom logos — Nickelodeon became "Sickolodeon" and MTV "WTF." They were even musical, chanting "I want my benefits" to the tune of the Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing," and "You've Got to Fight for Your Right to Health Care!" to the Beastie Boys' "You've Gotta Fight for Your Right (to Party)!" "It was pretty catchy," said one freelancer, who added that some of the chants were more direct. "There was one where everyone just shouted, 'I want teeth,'" she said. But the protests weren't, after all, just for fun. "We deserve to be able to take care of our bodies when we get sick," said the freelancer about the new health plan, which she called "a piece of shit." "We're worth more than that."
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