On May 2, the writers of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) went on strike. The WGA is a labour union that represents over 11,000 writers who work in various media, such as film, television and radio. This is the sixth time the union has gone on strike. One of the most significant WGA strikes was held between 2007 and 2008; writers claimed they were not being compensated fairly for work produced for new media such as the internet.
This time too, technological innovations are at the centre of the writers’ concerns. The WGA claims the studios have taken advantage of new streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video to underpay writers: “like too many working people across our economy, as corporate profits grow, writers are just not keeping up.” In other words, the WGA says that the corporations that produce films and shows are increasing their earnings while many writers aren’t making enough money to live on.
The WGA is also worried about another technological advancement: artificial intelligence. AI tools such as ChatGPT are now able to produce quality writing. Writers are asking studios not to replace them with such AI tools.
The strike is having repercussions both domestically and internationally since many American productions have a global viewership. Fans worldwide may see their favourite films and television shows delayed or even cancelled.
Many important people are expressing their support for the strike, including American President Joe Biden. “We need the writers,” said Biden, “to tell the stories of our nation, and the stories of all of us.”
“If it ain’t on the page, it ain’t on the stage” is a drama adage that means that nothing can be produced if it’s not first written down by a writer.
1) As Joe Biden suggests, is there a film or TV show that, in some way, tells your story or the story of your community? In other words, is there a film or TV show that is meaningful for you?
2) Are you familiar with any particular strike or protest? Or have you ever participated in one? Do you believe they were (or are) effective? Explain.
(Image: Wikimedia Commons)