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The 2023 Writers Guild of America and Screen Actors Guild Strike is a nationwide protest held by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) in response to poor compensation for Hollywood workers working in streaming, as well as concerns over AI-generation tools being used to replace them. The strike started on May 2nd, 2023, and is currently ongoing. On July 13th, 2023, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) joined the WGA Strike, a first since 1960. The dual strike will reportedly cause significant delays in the creation and filming of movies and television shows until it is resolved, resulting in what many people are calling a "content drought."
On April 17th, 2023, Twitter account @WGAWest announced that members of the Writers Guild of America voted to authorize a strike by over 97 percent "yes" votes. The tweet gathered over 11,000 likes in two months (seen below).
On May 1st, 2023, Twitter account More Perfect Union posted a video featuring Brittani Nichols, a writer for ABC's Abbot Elementary. Nichols describes the discrepancies in pay after television shows move from network cable to streaming services, which can be as large as $13,500 for re-air on cable to a mere $700 on streaming (seen below).
BREAKING: Hollywood writers are striking.
They’re fighting for their livelihoods against billion-dollar studios and streaming companies who have been squeezing writers to eke out more profits.
Writers didn’t shut down Hollywood -- the studios did.
— More Perfect Union (@MorePerfectUS) May 2, 2023
On May 2nd, comedian and writer Adam Conover posted a thread explaining the WGA's reasoning for going on strike, including various failed negotiations to protect writers' and presenters' pay and studios' failure to address concerns about artificial intelligence encroaching on traditional writing and address (seen below).
I'm incredibly proud of how transparent our union is. In the @WGAWest's strike announcement, we included a list of our proposals, and the AMPTP's responses. Read it for yourself: it explains in black and white we're forced to go on strike. pic.twitter.com/U2FLsv9Dob
— Adam Conover (@adamconover) May 2, 2023
The move for the WGA to strike also comes on the heels of news that Hollywood studio executives gathered record-breaking earnings in 2021, despite taking shows off streaming services and firing thousands of employees to cut costs. According to a Bloomberg article from May 7th, 2023, several high-level executives made tens of millions in the early 2020s, with some in the hundreds of millions (excerpt seen below).
Warner Bros. Chief David Zaslav made almost $250 million in 2021. Netflix’s Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos both made more than $50 million last year. In 2021, Disney’s Bob Iger and Bob Chapek made a combined $78 million.
On July 11th, 2023, the Twitter account @DiscussingFilm posted a tweet that read, "The studios and streamers reportedly have no intentions of negotiating with the Writer's Guild for several more months. 'The endgame is to allow things to drag on until union members start losing their apartments and losing their houses,' a studio executive tells Deadline."
The tweet was made in reference to a Deadline article about studios stalling talks indefinitely, gathering over 40,000 likes in three days (seen below, left). @CultureCrave posted a similar tweet on July 11th, adding that studio executives called the move a "cruel but necessary evil" (seen below, right).
Screen Actors Guild Joins Strike
On July 13th, 2023, Twitter account @weeklycut posted a video showing director Christopher Nolan announcing that the cast of Oppenheimer left the U.K. premiere of the movie as part of the Screen Actors Guild strike that begins on July 14th, 2023 (seen below). The post gathered over 8,000 likes in a day.
Official: Christopher Nolan just confirmed the cast of #Oppenheimer have LEFT the U.K. premiere due to the #SAGAFTRA strike
The first time in 60 years that writers and actors are striking together. #SAGStrike pic.twitter.com/BQBo2jRfCd
— The Weekly Cut (@weeklycut) July 13, 2023
The Screen Actor Guild's (SAG) move to join the Writers Strike marks the first time both unions have struck since 1960 when the actors union was headed by Ronald Reagen.
AI Face Scan Controversy
The move by the SAG to join the Writers' Strike came after studios proposed a plan to scan the faces of background actors to then use indefinitely. @DiscussingFilms posted a tweet on July 13th, 2023, that read, "The studio’s A.I. proposal to SAG-AFTRA included scanning a background actor’s likeness for one day’s worth of pay and using their likeness forever in any form without any pay or consent," gathering over 47,000 likes in a day. Also on July 13th, Twitter account @ThereCount posted a clip of SAG-AFTRA Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland revealing the AI proposal (seen below).
“They proposed that our background performers should be able to be scanned, get paid for one day’s pay, and their company should own that scan … to be able to use it for the rest of eternity.”
-- SAG-AFTRA Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland reveals the AMPTP’s AI proposal pic.twitter.com/ND7BzCR0nX
— The Recount (@therecount) July 13, 2023
On April 27th, 2023, Twitter user @BenjaminCrew1 posted a thread about how the 2007 WGA strike affected the quality of the James Bond film Quantum of Solace. The initial tweet gathered over 24,000 likes in two months (seen below).
Lots of people seem unclear on what actually happens during a writer's strike not just with the WGA but with ongoing productions. Here's a quick thread on one of the films that was affected the most by the 2007-2008 WGA strike – Quantum of Solace. pic.twitter.com/6LdNxNJUiI
— Ben Crew (@BenjaminCrew1) April 27, 2023
On July 13th, 2023, Twitter user @CatieOsaurus posted a tweet that read, "Listen I am a literal nobody regarding the SAG/WGA strike but I can tell you that a Netflix producer who ghosted me a year and a half ago slid into my DMs this morning wondering about picking the project we'd discussed back up and it smells a lot like nervous desperation to me." The tweet gathered over 50,000 likes in a day (seen below, left).
On July 14th, 2023, Twitter user @tredlocity posted a tweet about South Park's "Canada on Strike" episode, which mocked the 2007 WGA Strike. The tweet gathered over 25,000 likes in a day (seen below, right).