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What can we learn from the WGA strikes?

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Olivia Buckel shares opinions on what outsiders can learn from the WGA strikes.

As of Sept. 28, 2023, the Writers Guild of America has lifted the strike order. The writers’ strike is officially over and, after 148 days of striking, it is about time. 

During the strike, it was easy to brush off its significance, claiming that it really has nothing to do with the general population and we just have to wait a while for our favorite shows and movies to come back. However, looking at the strike this way is extremely counterproductive and extremely incorrect. There is something we can all learn from the writers’ strike, especially young people entering the workforce. 

To begin, the strike proves to the public that the creation of creative works has value and thus also deserves fair compensation. Once again, it is easy to brush off creative or artistic fields, claiming that they are unnecessary to society. Sure, one does not necessarily need to watch a TV show to survive; however, one can watch a TV show to destress, fall into a different world or become close to those around them. This has value and it should be treated as such. The strikers coming to a deal with those they were striking against only further proves this, because if we as a culture did not value writers in some shape or form, the strike would still be going on. This is especially inspirational to those who want to go into more creative fields. 

The writers strike shows us all that change is possible through solidarity and strength in numbers. When any person wants to make a change, they must take the leap and make it happen, but this can be frightening to do alone. This makes the likelihood of that change actually happening smaller. However, if that person has just one other person in their corner cheering them on, the likelihood of speaking out increases – this is exactly what happened with the writers’ strike. 

Writers, actors, business owners, CEOs, artists, politicians and so many more proclaimed their solidarity with the strike, and even joined them out on the streets. Several of these people have achieved notoriety, like Pete Davidson, Larry David, Mark Hamill, Bill Nye “The Science Guy” and many more. It was through this solidarity and advocacy that change was made and this is an inspiration to everyone that the world itself can be changed, as long as you have a solid support group. 

One of the final lessons we can take away – and arguably the most important – is that people are more important than A.I.. This was one of the more complicated aspects of the strike because of how unknown A.I. and similar technologies are, as well as the ways in which this technology will affect creative outlets going forward being unpredictable as well. 

Writer Christopher Rim said it best in his essay “3 Lessons College Film and TV Students Can Learn from the Writers’ Strike.” He writes, “Aspiring filmmakers and dramatic writers must be aware of the impact digital platforms, streaming services and engaging technologies have on the industry. Acquiring such knowledge will allow students to explore new avenues and…collaborate with creators in different mediums.” This is a brilliant way to look at A.I. because it does not make it something to be feared. Instead, it frames it as something to join forces with. 

However, what the writers’ strike has made apparent is that people in any job, but especially in creative fields, will not stand for being replaced by AI. The unfortunate truth of this is that, at the end of the day, companies are out for a profit, and if that means replacing people with AI, the strike proves that they will not hesitate to do so. It is important that we as a population take away the lesson from these strikes that AI is a threat to our way of life, and that even though people are more important than this technology, we must stand and make that fact known.

While these strikes were painful and seemingly endless, especially for those who were already struggling financially, the goal has been achieved. The writers of SAG-AFTRA feel that, as of now, they have their needs met and the Writers Guild of America has voted unanimously to send the writers back to work. 

While this is a victory, it is important to remember that this victory is not the end. This strike has shown us all valuable lessons that we cannot take at face value. As the country and world at large continues to change and evolve, this strike needs to serve as our reminder to not only take treatment of workers seriously, but treatment towards ourselves seriously. It has been proven over these past four months that, through blood, sweat and tears, our voices will be heard, and it is important that we as a country remember that. 

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About the Contributor
Olivia Buckel, Media Beat Reporter
Olivia Buckel is a Media Beat Reporter for The Carroll News. She is from Erie, Pennsylvania, and is currently a freshman at JCU. She is majoring in English with a Creative Writing concentration as well as a Gender, Sexuality and Women’s studies minor. She is also in the Honors Program In addition to writing for The Carroll News, Olivia is also a part of the Honors Service Board, as well as the JCU Allies Club and the Women and Allies Coalition. She is also a Peace, Justice, and Human Rights Ambassador and a prose editor for The Carroll Review. During her free time, Olivia enjoys reading fantasy books, writing fantasy stories, and watching fantasy TV. In the future, Olivia hopes to be an editor for a publishing house or magazine.  

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    Mark GunnOct 25, 2023 at 7:43 pm

    As a writer and a WGA member, I want to say how much I appreciate such a thoughtful piece. Well done!