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Double trouble: Striking Hollywood’s core

Updated: Oct 11, 2023

By Kyan Wang and James Yu Sept. 28, 2023


Even as the streets of Los Angeles sizzle in the summer heat, the pavement remains cool, protected by the shadows of protesting crowds. Hollywood production came to a near standstill on May 2, when its writers exited stage right and took to the streets in a unionwide strike with the Writers Guild of America (WGA).


Jude Tantawy art

The strikers demanded better compensation, improved benefits for writers, revised staffing requirements and tightened regulation of artificial intelligence (AI) in screenwriting. Refusing to address these demands, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) representing Hollywood’s studios and producers opened the floodgates for the largest and longest strike Hollywood has seen for nearly 40 years.


The Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) union—representing over 160,000 actors, artists and other professionals in Hollywood—answered the WGA’s call to action on July 13, announcing that it would also strike against the AMPTP in response to failed negotiations over a new contract. This move began the first double strike in Hollywood in 63 years.


Advancements in generative AIs such as Chat-GPT have increased fear among writers that screenplays could one day be automatically generated—cutting costs for studios at the expense of writers’ livelihoods and human creativity. Similarly, SAG-AFTRA is concerned that AI will soon be able to replicate actors’ voices entirely with deepfake technology, removing the human emotions central to most productions.


“With the rise of AI in Hollywood, producers do not need to hire extras, a job once crucial to the industry. The actors are not just striking for better pay—they are striking for their survival,” Freshman Ian Gal said.

Strikers are also concerned about the rise of streaming. ABC News explains that traditionally, writers and actors are paid with residuals, or portions of revenue made from reruns of their shows and movies. However, with streaming services such as Netflix and Disney+ hiding viewership data of show reruns, it is increasingly difficult for movie crews to receive the residuals that keep their livelihoods afloat. In order to reclaim lost residual income, members of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA are demanding a portion of the profits that streaming services make off of subscriber revenue.


With the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes nearly halting Hollywood production, Vox concludes that the strikes have already cost California’s economy an estimated $3 billion.


“The Hollywood strikes have brought together all of my favorite actors better than “Avengers: Endgame”. It is interesting to see small-time writers and Hollywood hall-of-famers in the fight together,” Sophomore Michael Morgan said.

The WGA, SAG-AFTRA and AMPTP expressed optimism that a new contract would be established soon after discussions took place on Sept. 20. But with the winds of change blowing in Hollywood, the streets of Los Angeles will likely remain cool under protestors’ shadows until the strikers and AMPTP reach an agreement.

 

About the contributors


Kyan Wang

staff writer


Kyan Wang is a junior at Leland High School and is the page editor for Science & Tech and Feature US for The Charger Account. When not being crushed by imminent deadlines, he enjoys listening to music, playing video games, and sleeping in.


James Yu

staff writer


James Yu is a sophomore at Leland High School and a staff writer for The Charger Account. During his free time, he's obsessing over Speech and Debate, an active Boy Scout, and hanging out with friends.






Jude Tantawy

artist


Jude Tantawy is a senior at Leland High School and is an artist for The Charger Account. During her free time, she enjoys drawing & painting, cooking, baking, playing video games, and is always listening to music.

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