Ok, so I am a writer, but it isn't my main source of income. Truth be told, at this stage in my journy writing is more of a hobby. My current rate of progress is one book every two years. My goal, is one book per year. I have a day job and I have no intentions of quitting that job in order to focus on attempting to make writing my main source of revenue. I have a ton of friends and acquaintances who have made writing their main focus and I commend them. Some of them are doing quite well for themselves and others have either found day jobs or are talking about going back to traditional sources of income because of the lack of stability from living on book sales.
Now, I am not interested in becoming an episodic story teller for Wattpad or a copy writer. I have friends who do both and they are good ways to make money as a writer. I am not interested in that course of action. I am also not interested in trying to become a ghost writer. I want to write my own novels and scripts and that is it. I do, however, except that this means that for the foreseeable future I will not be making enough money from my work to live as a fulltime writer. I am good with that. I write because I want to tell the stories of the people in my head and that is what I am going to do. In truth, I probably should have tried to go traditional rather than indie, but what can you do. Even the main stream big boys and girls are now moving into the indie world. Brandon Sanderson being the most recent to throw his hat into the indie ring.
So, now that I have admitted that I don't rely on writing to live, I want to comment on people who do. as a writer and a consumer of stories, I want to add my thoughts on the issue. Now, I understand that everyone wants to see growth in their income from year to year and writers are no different. The world has changed and Hollywood along with it. The way people consume content is always evolving and that means that artists must evolve with it. Sometimes the changes are in their favor and, other times, they aren't. This new Hollywood strike is due to changes that have created new or possible problems for writers. Here are my thoughts both for and against the WGA strike.
This Strike Only Effects Hollywood
First off, since people who are not involved in the writing industry might think that the strike effects all writes, I want to tell you it does not. It only effects people who work in movies, television and other such media. People who write novels, short stories, poetry, copy and all other forms of writing are not effected by the strike. It's only the WGA that is currently on strike. In fact, this strike which looks to be followed by an actors and directors strike, might actually be a boon for writers who work in other formats.
For instance, if consumers can no longer get their content form their usual sources, they may turn to more traditional forms of entertainment, such as books and magazines. This would actually create a rise in sales for writers who work in these fields. Since the world of books has now opened up to more and more authors, their is a plethora of content for consumers to enjoy in the literary world. From short episodic stories from Wattpad and Amazon Vella, to eBooks and dead tree editions (physical books), the public can find anything their interests desire.
Whereas, some of these writers may support the WGA, they are certainly not going to turn down new readers that come from the effects of the strike. Even though most authors would love to see their work on either the silver or golden screens, they are not going to stop writing or selling their books simply because the WGA feels the need to strike. The problems in Hollywood only effect WGA writers and not writers who work in other industries. You can look at it like this, if auto manufacturing workers go on strike it doesn't necessarily mean motorcycle manufacturing workers will as well. They may support their fellow workers, but not making cars may actually lead to a growth in motorcycle sales and I am sure they will gladly take advantage of the rise in demand. Writers who do not work for the WGA are like that. They may sympathize with their fellow writers, but that isn't going to stop them from capitalizing on the strike.
The Quality of Writing in Hollywood Has Been in Decline
Lets just be honest here and tell it like it is, pretty much every major IP that Hollywood has touched over the last few years has been seriously damaged. They're not only damaged, but some of them have either been killed or are in hospice on life support. Just look at Star Wars, Star Trek, DR Who, DCEU and the MCU. Pretty much anything Disney has done can be thrown in that mix as well. Just look at the awful Little Mermaid live action remake. Hollywood has shown us that they are absolutely and unequivocally creatively bankrupt. Instead of writing or producing new content they simply go back time and time again to remake, redo and ruin IP's that were once successful.
Now, is this an issue that can be laid at the feet of the everyday WGA writer, or is it a result of corporate interference in the creative process. Certainly non creative leadership is not going to understand creativity and all corporations are about producing low cost items that can be mass produced. If you like the iPhone, here are seventeen more that have only minor changes to them for you to buy. Hollywood, like the music industry, is now pretty much owned and run by these non creative large corporate entities. Whereas this cookie cutter process is something that Hollywood has suffered from in the past, it has only gotten worse in the era of big corporation.
No matter who is to blame, the writers from the WGA are to blame for the lackluster or bad content that has been given to us. Bad writing is still bad writing no matter how you package it. So, do people who are obviously underperforming deserve more for their bad work? Well, I would have to say no. I know there are a lot of nuances to the strike and I do agree with some of their reasons, but the lack of performance from these writers should lead to consequences and not more money. It would be this way in pretty much any other industry. If a group of bad employees who have not performed are now on strike because they think they desire more money, then the company would simply fire them and hire new talent. Yes, it is the same thing here and just because art is subjective, doesn't mean that you can continue to write stories that fail and then get to both keep your job and get paid more for your work. That is just not logical or okay in any industry. It is insanity and Hollywood is obviously insane.
Hollywood is a Closed Community That has Become Inbred and Out of Touch
Well, you go woke you go broke. Hollywood has intentionally hired and promoted only writers who openly agree or get behind their political agendas. It has always been a community that was heavily gate kept, but it did allow for stories of all types. These stories succeeded or failed on their own merits and not because the mainstream media spun the narrative for them. If your stuff didn't work, you didn't get new work and that is the way it should be. Sure, sometimes a show, like Fire Fly for instance, was canceled but found a community after the fact. This does happen, but overall if not enough people liked your stuff, you didn't get more jobs. This is not the case in current Hollywood. You fail upward as long as you stay political. That is, unless you said the wrong thing on Twitter ten years ago.
Now, we have writers who have been hired not on their skill, but rather on their ethnicity or political beliefs. This led to content that is only created to further an agenda and not to tell good stories. Now, not all of the WGA writers fall into this category, but a whole bunch do. I'm not saying they don't have the right to tell the stories they want, but if people aren't buying, then you shouldn't still be employed by the studios to write content. You certainly don't deserve more money.
Of course, Disney, Paramount, WB and all the other companies are also to blame since they created the problem through hiring practices and forced political content. Just look at the comic industry which was sacrificed by these big companies in order to be used for virtue signaling. And, these failed stories and characters are what Disney is currently bringing to the MCU.
A.I. Really is a Possible Threat
Ok, so this is an area I agree with the WGA on. Since Hollywood is now run by big corporation it is a very real possibility that they will use AI to create cookie cutter content that they can market for lower cost. (Again, look at the iPhone.) Why pay a room full of writers to create a show when you can use AI to cheaply create content that is pretty good and tailored to what worked before? I mean, you just put in what you want and out pops a story that is as good as any average writer is currently giving you but at a fraction of the cost. Obviously this is something that does and should scare writers. If AI continues to progress, they may be replaced by a few computer programmers who can pop out content more quickly and cheaply. This is after all the corporate way and corporations are now the overlords of Hollywood.
The strike wants the growing possibility of AI to be addressed now while they have the power to do so. If they wait, too long their chips may not have any value and their bargaining position will be lost. I agree with them and I feel they have a point. The companies should put into practices laws and policies that protect writers from being replaced by robots. Kind of like how the fast food workers and retail workers have been by self services computers. By denying these companies content now, they have the ability to force them to address the AI issue before it can become unstoppable. Writers should be protected and AI should not replace them, but as my earlier points show, the WGA needs to be willing to be held accountable when they don't perform and not just blame the consumers.
The Pay Writers Get From Streaming Shows is Not Equal
I was listening to a writing podcast where a WGA leader mentioned that his back end pay for an episode of a traditional TV show was around $4000, but his back pay per episode of a streaming show was just $4. This is a huge discrepancy in pay and not even kind of acceptable. You can say that streaming doesn't use commercials for revenue but subscribers and this doesn't grow fast enough to cover new content, but that is an outright lie. Even Netflix, Disney + and Hulu now have commercials and you have to pay extra to get rid of them. So the low cost streaming services which enabled people to replace cable with multiple platforms, has now become even more costly than cable. Writers are right in demanding their fair share of this revenue.
Also, whereas traditional TV shows had around twenty-two episodes, a lot of streaming shows have thirteen or lower. This means that writers, who traditionally get paid per episode, are now getting paid less since there are less episodes per show. Also, I have heard it has become standard practice to hire a bunch of writers to hash out a series and then fire all but a few of them to actually write the show. Once again standard Corporate type behavior, which really isn't ok in the creative world. For some writers these new practices are making it impossible for them to be able to make a living writing. This seems really sad in an industry that still makes billions every year. Writers have a right to want this discrepancy of pay addressed. Just like AI, streaming revenue should be addressed and settled so the current revenue discrepancies in Hollywood don't get worse.
Well, here are my thoughts on the WGA writers strike. Whereas I am upset with the continuingly bad content these writers have been giving me, I do understand and agree with some of their concerns. Yes, all art is subjective and I know there are some people that actually like The Last Jedi, my brother being one of them, but it really took a lot of bad writing and poor decisions to lead us here. I feel that any contract should allow for the firing of writers who don't perform, but should also address the streaming revenue discrepancies and AI concerns of writers.
Either way, this strike and all the other possible upcoming ones are going to seriously hurt Hollywood and leave a bad taste in consumers mouths. Who knows, maybe in the end it will bring actual change, but I doubt it. At least this has caused the Indie world to explode and it is forcing people like me to go find content in places I wouldn't have otherwise; and that, is very a good thing for indie creators like me.