The Chomp

The Student News Site of Gateway Regional High School

The Chomp

The Student News Site of Gateway Regional High School

The Chomp

The Student News Site of Gateway Regional High School

The 2023 Writers and Actors Strike

The What and The Why
Image by Freepik

On May 2nd of this year, the Writers Guild of America, henceforth referred to as the WGA, went on strike for the first time since 2008. Just over two months later, on July 14th, they were joined by the Screen Actors Guild, SAG-AFTRA. This is the first time both guilds have been on strike at the same time in over 60 years. So what caused this? What productions are being affected? Who is to blame?

This strike has been a long time coming. The major reason currently is this: writers, actors, and other people working in television and film are rarely, if ever, paid residuals from productions on streaming services. Residuals refer to the money paid to workers after they have stopped working on the project. For writers, who can often go months between major jobs, residuals are the main income source they have to stay afloat. In the past, disputes over residuals have been the cause of other strikes. In the 1988 strike, residuals over TV reruns were up for debate. In the famous 2007-2008 strike, it was over DVDs and media. 

Another topic of concern was the use of AI-generated material to replace writers. Not only would this put thousands of people out of jobs, it would also be stealing their work. AI, which is not actually artificial intelligence in a science fiction way and is really only a complex learning algorithm, cannot function without input material; it doesn’t create anything new itself. That input material would be the work of writers, being taken and fed into the machine to create something else that they would see no profit for. 

AI was also a concern for actors. According to SAG-AFTRA, AMPTP, the group of studios that actors are striking, attempted to pass negotiations that would essentially rid the industry of extra work. What they would see happening is this: background actors would get their entire body scanned with cameras, and converted to a 3-D model. They would be paid for one day of work, and then the studio would be able to use that model in any movie from that point on without having to pay the actor. Not only does this strip the actor of the right to choose their own work, but it would also set a dangerous precedent for the industry as a whole. 

So, what effect has the strike had? Regarding strikes in the past, the first productions impacted were talk shows, which rely heavily on scripting. Programs like The Tonight Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and more all stopped production and started airing reruns or nothing at all. Many movies and television shows have also been impacted, with premieres being pushed back or production being halted. This was exasperated when the actors joined the strike, causing most productions to halt indefinitely.

Many people uninvolved with these industries may feel annoyed by the strikes, especially if it caused their favorite show or movie to be delayed. But, it’s important to understand the context of why the strike is occurring and to not blame the workers. If someone’s favorite show has been delayed, it’s not because of the striking workers, but instead because of the conditions that caused the workers to strike. This applies to every industry, which is incredibly important to remember in this time of constant social and labor change.

This situation is constantly changing, and evolving day by day. On September 1st, SAG-AFTRA unanimously voted to authorize a strike for actors in the video game industry, like voice actors, for similar reasons as the larger strike. At this point, these strikes have lasted longer than the 2007 strike, which drastically changed the entire entertainment industry by pushing reality TV. So, make sure to keep an eye out to see if similar changes occur this time!

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About the Contributor
Jack Patrick
Jack Patrick, Staff Writer
Jack Patrick is a junior, and a writer for The Chomp. He enjoys reading, writing, photography, and music. He mostly writes about current events, music, and potentially other things!
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