Kids, can we talk about this writers strike for a few minutes? Good. Because I have thoughts…
First, let’s travel back to late 2007 and early 2008. That’s the last time the Writers Guild of America went on strike. At that time the movie and television writers were fighting not only for fair pay for their hard work and creativity, but for royalties and residuals for the work they had done previously that studios were still getting paid for thanks to the release of DVDs for sale and rent to your average entertainment seeking junkie.
That 2007 strike led to the shortening of a lot of television shows’ seasons and a marked increase in our consumption of “reality” TV. And there were a lot of shows that wound up getting canceled because audiences forgot about them once they returned to our screens after the strike was over. It was a tumultuous time.
I remember agreeing that the writers should have their demands met. What they were asking for at the time certainly didn’t seem unreasonable. At the same time, I selfishly wanted my favorite TV shows to continue on uninterrupted. A part of me, an ignorant part, couldn’t help but sort of blame the writers for walking out and bringing the Hollywood machine grinding to a halt.
Looking back, I can’t really say I understand all that came from that previous strike. I can only assume that negotiations carried on and eventually the WGA was able to walk away with a deal that was satisfying enough to last until the beginning of this month.
According to an article I read at Vulture, this year’s strike has been looming since February, when negotiations between the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) were about to kick off. According to that same article, “The WGA demands increased minimum compensation in all areas of media, increased residuals, appropriate TV series-writing compensation from pre- to postproduction, increased contributions to pension and health plans, the strengthening of professional standards and the overall protections for writers, and more.” Does that sound unreasonable to anyone? You want a visual aid that deals with some actual numbers? Here you go…
There’s also the issue of streaming services. Last time the WGA contract was negotiated, streaming was barely even a thing. Sure, Netflix had started streaming online after years of successfully mailing DVDs to our homes. But it was nowhere near what streaming is today. So many of us have cut the cord of cable companies and signed up for every streaming service out there, likely now paying more for streaming than we ever did for that 500+ channel cable package. But isn’t it worth it to have everything you could ever want to watch at the touch of a button at any time, day or night?
The negotiators for the writers in 2007 could have never imagined that streaming services would become what they are today. So now, that medium needs to be recognized in the new and updated contract. Again, not unreasonable, right?
Studios have made it clear that they simply do not want to pay their writers a fair wage for the work they do. And they try to make it seem like the WGA never had any intention of coming to the table with a fair deal… that they intended to strike all along. Sure, members voted in advance in agreement to strike IF the two sides could not come to an agreement. The studios aren’t budging and, from what I’ve been able to see, the WGA is only asking for whatever it takes to make sure its members are able to make a living wage.
I’ve seen how some people out there are able to show their support for the WGA. I mean, if you’re in Los Angeles or New York, it’s probably pretty easy to find where writers are picketing and drive by and honk your horn to show solidarity. I’ll say I’ve been impressed with any actors I’ve seen carrying signs alongside the writers.
The other day I saw that Jeopardy! host Mayim Bialik decided to walk away from her hosting duties for the duration of the strike. As a member of the Screen Actors Guild, she wants to show her support. And why shouldn’t she? Why shouldn’t all actors? Without writers, actors wouldn’t have anything to say or do in front of those cameras.
But how can I support the WGA strike of 2023? I live in a medium sized city in Virginia. I can’t exactly take coffee and donuts to a nearby picket line. I’m writing this blog post. But what’ll that do? This thing will be seen by approximately nine people and fully read by maybe four. I was really thinking about this today… How to support the writers strike…
Then it hit me. I’ll stop watching movies and TV for the duration of the strike. Sure, I don’t have cable… so no TV should be fairly easy. Then there’s movies. I love going to the movies. But I can sacrifice going to the movies for a few months, right? I’ll miss some big ones that I’m really looking forward to… Fast X, The Flash, The Little Mermaid, Across the Spider-Verse…
But that’s not enough. Especially if the real issue at hand is the streaming issue, right? That means I have to not watch anything on any of the streaming platforms to which I’m subscribed. But it strikes me that it won’t be enough to just not turn on Netflix. It won’t be enough to simply ignore Disney+ when new episodes of whatever the next Marvel show is are released. Because they’re still getting my money…. Unless I unsubscribe for the duration of the strike.
What do you think? Does that sound like a good idea? Is that a good way to show my support for the writers that make it possible for our favorite movies and TV shows to come to life?
I think about what I would want if I ever made it as a writer. That’s still the dream, right? To write something that gets discovered by the right person. To have something I made up get adapted into the next big television event or blockbuster film. And if that were to happen, of course I would want fair compensation for my work. That’s all these writers are asking for.
What is it to me to give up a few months of audio/visual stimulation?
2 thoughts on “The Writers Strike of 2023”
Well I’m one of the four…I think your right, anything short of unsubscribing would be less than meaningful because your still giving them money otherwise. I’d join you but I’m already not subscribed to any streaming services at this time.
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I’m also one of the 4 and I was considering Unsubscribing from Netflix anyway to save that $6.99 a month.
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