• Thu. May 30th, 2024

(W)hy in (G)od’s name do they even have to (A)sk: A Reflection on the WGA strikes

ByBella Galloway

Oct 3, 2023
Picketers protest outside a film studio

148 days of a historic strike have come to a close for the Writers Guild of America (WGA), and as the dust settles, it is clear that a new era for the entertainment industry is emerging. 

I have to say: the threat of AI becoming so widespread that it has now infiltrated the film and tv scene was not on my 2023 bingo card. But this is just one of the many issues that writers were striking against. One of the most important resolutions that came out of the deal is that starting next year, streaming residuals will be tied to a show’s performance, meaning that writers will receive a bonus on top of the money they are provided upfront. However, this does not console the issue of already-existing shows such as Bojack Horseman or Suits who have been ruling Netflix over the summer. Frankly, it seems incredulous to me that even these resolutions have been so fought against by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), when it is giving basic respect to the hands and minds that bring the limitless creativity that is shown in the entertainment industry. I believe this is a continued disregard for the heart and soul of the creative industries, which has been side-lined by big bosses for far too long.

Even figures within and outside the industry had their ups and downs. One of the most notable examples of this is Drew Barrymore, who jumped on the WGA-strike-bandwagon early on and was soon vilified by the guild when she announced that her show would be continuing despite ongoing action. Although this was swiftly backtracked, Barrymore’s seemingly spotless record as a celeb in 2023 (hard to achieve, I know) was tarnished, and many accused her of being out of touch and disloyal. On a larger scale, the state of California has suffered a $5 billion impact to its economy as a result of the combined WGA and Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) strikes. And yet, even the Governor of California himself can recognise the fact that they were striking over “existential threats to their careers and livelihoods”. It is truly upsetting that creatives are having to result to such extreme measures to get basic appreciation for their craft, especially as SAG-AFTRA strikes continue.

It could be argued that strikes have characterised 2023, whether that be the SAG-WGA strikes in the US or UCU strikes in the UK. My main take away from this is that collective action cannot be underestimated. We should continue to remember who the invisible voices and pens behind our favourite shows are, and more importantly, the often unscathed corporate hands that hold their livelihoods in the balance. 

Writers Strike 2023 at Netflix in Hollywood” by ChrisGoldNY is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.