As we’re passing the 100-day milestone of the 2023 Hollywood strikes, let’s look back at the cause of these strikes and why they are so necessary. There’s a lot to say about this topic, and I can’t cover all of it, but hopefully this will give some background information.
The last big writers strike was 15 years ago, from 2007-2008. Going back almost 50 years before that was the very first strike from the Writers Guild of America in 1960.
In the 60s, writers mainly fought for a share of the revenue studios received when they leased a TV show to broadcasted television; this would create a consistent stream of income for writers due to residuals.
In 2007, writers again fought for residuals on new streaming platforms, among many other things. These demands have laid a precedent for the current strikes in 2023.
The core fight throughout the years is that, due to ongoing technological advancements in the film industry, writers need to have renewed contract terms that keep up with the times. Studios have routinely fought tooth and nail to deny writers compensation that would not only be proportionate to the earnings of new projects but also match increased costs of living.
The streaming era has drastically impacted writers who make roughly no money from shows and films they work on. Studios find new ways to cut costs, including removing writers’ rooms and replacing them with alternatives. It essentially forces writers to work gigs rather than steady jobs. The issues regarding AI are another problem altogether that the guilds have included in their negotiations to protect their jobs.
The ever-changing landscape of film and TV makes this a complex issue, but the root cause of these strikes is corporate greed. It always has been, and likely will continue to be so. We can see proof of that not only from the distribution of profits within these companies but also in comparison to independent film studios. A24, for example, received an interim waiver to continue using guild actors during the strikes because they agreed to all the guild’s conditions. And independent studios have nowhere near the amount of money as large ones like NBC and Disney do.
The absurdity of the studios is clear when we realize the guilds are striking for a minuscule slice out of a gargantuan pie, mainly reserved for those at the top. The studios could so easily pay the writers and actors a living wage, a fair wage, but they don’t want to set a precedent of giving in to the little guy. So they are continuing to refuse.
Here’s hoping things turn around for the strikers and they get the contracts they’re fighting for. If you’re wondering what you can do to help, below are picket schedules and some links to donate: