Hollywood executives should meet striking writers’ demands for fair pay


John Edwards | Wikimedia Commons

Jahlil Rush, Production Assistant

Entertainment writers should see increases in their compensation that reflect the detrimental impact of streaming services and rising inflation rates on pay across the board.

The Writer’s Guild of America began striking on May 2 to protest these conditions, halting television and other productions on both coasts.

The last strike began in fall 2007, dragging on for 100 days, costing Hollywood more than $3 billion, according to estimates from the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation.

A repetition of these events is entirely avoidable if Hollywood executives listen to the reasonable demands being made by the WGA.

The biggest issue the guild pushed to the forefront of the dispute is the impact of streaming’s rising popularity, which is resulting in writers getting paid far less in residuals than traditional television.

Residuals are the payments doled out to individuals who contributed to a piece of media when it gets resold, repackaged or re-aired. In the past, this meant that shows that reached the point of syndication would guarantee the creatives behind them repeated checks for years.

But this system has largely been abandoned as the streaming craze transformed the landscape of the entertainment industry. Services like Netflix or Hulu tend to pay single, fixed residuals that don’t correspond to viewing numbers.

Furthermore, there are no additional payments when shows switch between different streaming services. This led almost 98% of writers participating in the WGA authorization to vote in favor of the strike. Writers are adamant that streaming services should pay out in a manner closer to traditional TV, for this pay disparity is the main reason for their unrest.

To meet this demand, Hollywood executives must develop a different system to ensure that creatives are sharing the profits from their work regardless of the platform it appears on.

Multiple celebrities have shown support for the writers’ strike, including “Saturday Night Live” alumna Aidy Bryant, who joined the picket lines alongside current cast member Sarah Sherman.

“WGA STRONG IN NYC,” Bryant wrote on Instagram.

Actress Drew Barrymore also backed out of hosting the upcoming MTV Movie and TV Awards in a display of solidarity with the writers who are striking.

Writers are the backbone of the entertainment industry. The WGA’s past strikes  further demonstrate that progress will not be made until writers stand their own ground and demand better working conditions.

“It [the strike] doesn’t just affect the writers,” TV host Seth Meyers said. “It affects all the incredible non writing staff on these shows. And it would really be a miserable thing for people to have to go through, especially considering we’re on the heels of that awful pandemic.”