The 2023 Writers Guild of America Strike Explained
Last week, social media erupted when the Writers Guild of America went on strike. Didn’t hear about it? Well, you will soon.
If you don’t think the WGA Strike will affect you, consider this: what will happen when none of your favorite TV shows and movies are released when you expected they would be? What will happen when you tune in for a mindless episode of late-night comedy and there's … nothing? What will happen when shows like Abbott Elementary are forced to shoot fewer episodes for the next season? Riots.
So, I have your attention now? Good. I’m sure you have questions…and I’m here to answer them.
Why Are The Writers On Strike?
This isn't our first writers' strike. From November 2007 to February 2008, American TV writers went on strike for the first time this century. This resulted in a $1.5 billion impact on the Los Angeles economy and cost the U.S. entertainment industry $500 million...And someone's telling us we don't need writers?
Essentially, the writers need to be paid more. The East and West branches of the WGA represent the writers of 11,500 movies and television series. And the WGA negotiates writer contracts with Hollywood studios roughly every three years. This year, things didn’t go so well.
While the studios believe they made a fair appraisal of the compensation increase, the writers believe they are being undervalued. With the rise of Artificial Intelligence, studios are mulling over whether or not writers are truly essential anymore.
The studios state that this is not the best time for the writers to see a major change in compensation. Meanwhile, the writers argue that streaming platforms have increased episode counts from the standard 8-10 run to close to 20 episodes a season and this severely cuts into their work lives.
But Why Not Use AI?
Look, I get it. AI helped you write that essay you procrastinated until the very last possible moment to write (don’t worry, I won’t tell). It generated that photo of you in 1800’s garb. It can make almost anything look real (it terrifies me to no end).
But what AI can’t do is capture true human emotion in the ways that a writer can. While Chat GPT may get you 800 words, it surely won’t tell the truth about a certain brand or product. AI isn’t funny, doesn’t have a sense of humor…in other words, breaking news: robots can’t relate to us as well as humans can.
I don’t know how we got to the point of such laziness and greed that we actually entertain the notion that writers are no longer critical in the wake of Artificial Intelligence. It’s insipid. But I do know that Artificial Intelligence can’t tell you about the time they flew cross-country only to crash a rental car in Los Angeles and almost got banned from the state after a Harry Styles concert.
Who Is Affected By The Writers' Strike?
If this madness continues, the entire planet will be affected in some way or another. And this insanity looks like it’s going to go on for a while. Late-night talk shows have all stopped shooting - which means no one's getting paid unless the hosts are paying out of pocket, and many are. Late-night programming is the most immediate effect of the strike.
Meanwhile, films can halt production, but since movies take over a year to produce, release dates will just be pushed back. However, daily running shows like soap operas - a dying industry in itself - will run out of episodes to release within a month.
With no one writing at all right now, there are no new seasons in the works. Netflix shows like Big Mouth, Stranger Things, and Unstable have shuttered their writers' rooms. And on May 2, Abbott Elementary scribes weren't allowed to start working on the next. Yellowjackets and Billions among other popular shows have also paused writing due to the strike.
As you can see, we are about to face some major consequences. Celebs and the rich and famous are picketing with the writers, where you can see faces like Quinta Brunson, Dan Levy, Rob Lowe, and more boasting signs for the WGA. Late-night hosts like Seth Meyers and Jimmy Kimmel are paying their staff out-of-pocket for the time being.
Writers are an essential part of storytelling, so we stand with the WGA and hope they get their bag ASAP. Plus, I will never forgive the Hollywood studios if I don’t see Quinta Brunson on my screen for endless-endless episodes. Get the deal done, Hollywood.
So the answer is no, AI can’t write like a real writer does. AI can’t create your favorite show the way humans can. And without our brilliant writers, there would be no shows.