On May 2, the Writers Guild of America ceased its activities and went on strike. After years of stagnating compensation and job insecurity due to AI, the hand of Hollywood writers was forced as upper management refused to ratify a new bargaining agreement in time. On July 14, the WGA was joined by SAG-AFTRA, the actors’ union. The members of both unions voted over 97 percent in favor of a strike; frustration with production companies had reached a tipping point.
The dismissal of workers’ concerns and open cruelty by Hollywood bosses has been shocking, but not surprising. One executive quoted in Deadline Hollywood said, “The endgame is to allow things to drag on until union members start losing their apartments and losing their houses,” a tactic described as a “cruel but necessary evil.”
The audacity. The CEOs, who do not do the acting, the writing or the editing, yet somehow take home most of the money, would sooner make people homeless than provide better working conditions. They admit their actions are cruel and evil, but they are not at all disturbed. The only thing that disturbs them is a drop in profits.
Let’s not forget that better working conditions are indeed what these workers are striking for, because the anti-union mainstream media is out to paint them as nothing more than a mischievous cadre of banditti. Fox News quoted a Paramount CEO as saying that the strikes would cause the “absolute collapse” of Hollywood. On the other side of the spectrum, the putatively liberal The Week magazine described striking workers as “No shows” on the cover of its July 28 issue, lambasting striking film workers for not doing the work they should be doing.
That’s the first reason I’m so grateful for this strike: It has exposed the entitlement that so many in society, especially those with means, feel when it comes to entire sectors of labor. It is taken for granted that certain workers cater to our needs. Firefighters must put out fires, delivery drivers must bring us food, and actors must entertain us — and when they refuse to, anger and disrespect for these workers is justifiable.
Matthew Adarichev is a public policy major at Hofstra University, a political activist and an aspiring journalist whose work has appeared in the Hofstra Chronicle and the Anton Media Group.