Erin Yarwood is a journalism sophomore and a Mustang News Opinion Columnist. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect those of Mustang News.
The Writers Guild of America (WGA) has been on strike since May 2, 2023. The strike is in protest to the small pay that writers receive for composing work that brings in billions for media companies. Despite use and income from streaming platforms skyrocketing in recent years, writers are still extremely underpaid for the work.
The strike commenced when a negotiation between the Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) reached a deadlock. The negotiation between WGA and AMPTP happens every three years and sets a minimum script pay, as well as other rights and regulations for how networks treat the writers hired by them. However, this year after six weeks of negotiation, the two associations were unable to continue due to lack of compromise.
The last time WGA strike in 2007 lasted 100 days. The WGA’s actions are extremely warranted and their fight for respect towards their profession shows great courage. At this rate, there seems to be no stopping them until the changes they are fighting for are enacted.
WGA is a joint American labor union that represents writers of radio, television and media. Writers in Hollywood move from one project to the next, making it more difficult for them to know where or when their next paycheck will be than others in the business. While there is a minimum script pay for writers, which is up for alteration during the WGA and AMPTP negotiation every three years, the minimum is pre-tax. Writers must also pay their teams, which results in a substantial loss of income.
AMPTP consists of over 350 studios including Netflix, Apple TV, Paramount and Amazon. While actors and directors receive streaming residuals, a set amount of money received when media they worked on is streamed, writers are not receiving enough.
CEO’s of these companies, on the other hand, are exponentially earning more money every year. It is unjust to have only the heads of streaming platforms be financially rewarded for growth in recent years, while the writers are not. Without Hollywood’s talented writers there would not be any carefully media crafted to make us all laugh, cry and beg for more.
With artificial intelligence technology rapidly growing and improving, there is a temptation for networks to utilize AI to write scripts or ideas. Not only are the writers striking against unfairly low wages, they are fighting for the existence of their jobs in the future. While AI continues to improve, I cannot imagine a comedy show written by ChatGPT being incredibly successful. There is no world in which AI can write with the same personality and character that talented human writers can. Especially in regards to humor, stories and television written by AI would be incomparable to the way they are now.
The strike has halted production for a number of networks. Because of this, a number of television shows will have their release date pushed back. Late night shows, like “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and “Late Night with Seth Meyers” will air reruns while the strike continues. Unsurprisingly these complications are causing quite an upset among fans and networks.
Famous actors and actresses like Pete Davidson, Kerry Washington, and Quinta Brunson, along with a majority of the “Abbott Elementary” cast, have shown their support by joining writers in protests. With such well-known names and television shows attached to the WGA strike, there is a lot of media attention on the guild.
Without writers, there are no shows. It’s time they start gaining recognition for their work that produces so much money, and a salary to reflect that. The WGA is showing a great deal of bravery by standing up for what they believe is right, and it is already having a huge impact on the studio business. Their strike is reminding Hollywood and its fans just how important they are.