Despite the writers' strike, there is still endless content available across thousands of platforms and from the archives of a century of filmmaking that is available to viewers.
This marks the first time both writers and actors are on strike simultaneously since 1960. A strike could devastate the film and television industry, especially in major production hubs, such as Atlanta, London, New York, and Toronto. The quesion, however, is if the nation has any real need of a storytelling machine that has beclowned itself with flops, failures, and a dearth of original ideas for decades.
It's hard to imagine a time when Hollywood was less relevant to American cultural life. The big studios pump out regurgitations of formerly good ideas and story franshises, whipping them into something that is not quite new, not quite old, and definitely not better than the original.
Actors take to awards stages to speak out to their peers about their collective favorite pet causes like abortion, sex changes for kids, and fat acceptance. Many of these breathless speeches that end with thanking their agents fall flat when they hit the ears of everyday Americans.
The content is fractured, being pushed on dozens of different platforms as well as in theaters, leaving viewers with no real idea where to find the content they are looking for. With streaming services costing some $10 or more per month each, movie theaters still devastated from the losses during the recent pandemic, and platforms such as YouTube, Rumble, and Twitter hosting long-form content, much of it made by gamers, streamers, commentators who have no connection to the Hollywood machine, it's hard to see how this strike will have any impact at all on entertainment options.
“There is a huge economy in Los Angeles," The Wrap's Jeremy Fuster said, "and other and so many others that would lose billions of dollars, not to mention the livelihoods of thousands and thousands of below-the-line workers.”
Given the scope of the industry, it's easy to see how the ripple effect of the joint strike by actors and writers will play out across the supporting job market. But as there is little need to get the actors and writers back, perhaps those who support the industry would be better served by finding work in other fields. These are talented, industrious people with likely a great deal to offer.
Union members are demanding studios to restrict the use of artificial intelligence, asking for higher pay for streaming and residuals as well as improved health and pension funds. AI is a big issue for writers, as well.
Both writers and actors feel their grip slipping away as AI is employed by producers to create the content they want without the trouble of employing actual humans. Likely there is a human touch that will be missed as AI replaces or augments the work of actors and writers, but for better or worse, viewers will adapt.
The Writers Guild, as part of their negotiations, has been asking for AI to be permitted for writers to use under the idea that if it is allowed, then when it is used writers won't have to share their royalties with the software makers who generated the AI in the first place.
SAG-AFTRA agreed on Tuesday to a last-minute request for federal mediation by the Alliance of Film and Television Producers, the trade union that represents the studios, but no deal was reached. Previously, the union avoided a strike on July 1 before negotiations were extended.
A SAG-AFTRA representative told KTLA that negotiations are taking place under a mutually agreed upon news blackout. The two sides are likley desperate to get the machine moving again before everyone realizes that the culture may be better off without them.
Word has come down that high-profile actors have already announced plans to join the picket line, including Meryl Streep, Ben Stiller, and Jennifer Lawrence.
Americans are unlikely to feel sympathy with their favorite actors picketing in the LA sun. It is never a good look when the wealthy stand up and demand more.
Those who will really be hurt by this are the various hopefuls who went to LA or New York to seek the fulfillment of their dreams. Armed with MFAs and winning smiles, these underlings will be the ones lining up to take on side gigs at Starbucks while they wait to see if the industry they so desperately wish to be part of will even continue to exist.
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