The Writers Guild of America began its strike on May 2, bringing TV and film writing to a halt. (This reality is felt most acutely by daily and late night television shows going dark.) The last writers' strike, in 2007, led to unscripted television, a cornucopia of reruns and a multitude of shows getting the axe. Now, without the work of writers in Hollywood and beyond, AI could emerge as the key, job-taking tool in the business. But the WGA aims to restrict how major studios can incorporate AI tools such as ChatGPT and Dall-E into their work.
AI is regressive. It specializes in synthesizing old ideas and spitting the amalgamation onto a screen. For new, bold and challenging writing, you simply need human writers. And there is no better way to prove that than by using clever writing to show the value of creative writing. Here are some writers’ strike signs that prove that writers are not replaceable.
1. “They have ludicrously capacious salaries. What’s even in there? 773 million? Greg, it's monstrous. It’s gargantuan.”
This sign references a scene in HBO’s Succession, in which Tom gawks at Greg’s new fling’s “ludicrously capacious bag.” Surely the CEOs of major streaming networks — whose combined salaries reached $773 million in 2021, according to a WGA infographic — also have room for flat shoes for the subway in their bags.
Greg, it's monstrous. It's gargantuan. #WGAStrike #WritersStrike pic.twitter.com/qoOnhXeljM— Emanuel Juárez (@EmaJuarezOk) May 3, 2023
(For what it’s worth, those CEOs and ECs were Ari Emanuel of Endeavor with $308.2m; David Zahlov, Discover, $246.6m; Bob Iger, Disney, $45.9m; Bob Chapek, Disney, $32.5m; Rupert Murdoch, Fox, $31.1m; Reed Hastings, Netflix $40.8m; Ted Saranados, Netflix $38.2m; and Brian Roberts, Comcast, $30m.)
2. “‘I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!’ was not written by a producer.” https://twitter.com/EmmaTolkin/status/1653496828665683969?s=20
You can almost hear anchorman Howard Beale himself shouting this famous line from the 1976 film Network, which was written by Paddy Chayefsky and produced by Metro-Goldwyn Mayer Pictures. MGM is now owned — of course, obviously, you guessed it — by Amazon.
These #writersstrike picket signs are so good.— 𝙎𝙝𝙤𝙘𝙠 𝙅𝙖𝙘𝙦𝙪𝙚𝙨 𝘿𝙚𝙢𝙮 is pro WGA (@EmmaTolkin) May 2, 2023
“‘I’M MAD AS HELL AND I’M NOT GOING GO TAKE THIS ANYMORE’ WAS NOT WRITTEN BY A PRODUCER!” pic.twitter.com/UV4rkQGmfy
3. “AI can’t write Tariq’s raps”
Abbott Elementary creator Quinta Bronson pickets with a sign that references her character Janine’s aggressively boyish boyfriend Tariq, who boldly persists with his rap career dreams. Here are some of the most Tariq “bars” if you haven’t yet heard them: “I am a feminist, so I let her pay for everything” and “Don’t be hypnotic, the flow is iconic, I touched that girl once now she feeling aquatic.”
“AI CANT WRITE TARIQ’S RAPS!”— Jenny Yang is in LA Sun May 21st 4pm Self Help Me (@jennyyangtv) May 4, 2023
via @noredavis #WritersStrike #WritersGuildofAmerica pic.twitter.com/5q4URJm6Dy
4. “The One Where We Get a Fair Contract”
The sign references the Friends title template, creating a new episode for the show where writers get a fair contract. In the broadcast model of shows like Friends, writers get residuals from reruns, but the streaming model means either fixed or no residuals and, therefore, much less money for writers to stay afloat between projects.
Live from day 2 of #writersstrike in front of Netflix’s Manhattan offices, a fitting location given how streaming is central to all of this. Some sign highlights: pic.twitter.com/aeybDfAp6N— Marina Fang (@marinafang) May 3, 2023
5. “Chat GPT doesn’t have childhood trauma” https://twitter.com/NazaninNour/status/1653916450858446848?s=20
From the depths of what suffering will Chat GPT be pulling inspiration? No, seriously, this is an important question.
One thing this writer’s strike is going to give us is elite sign content. pic.twitter.com/IYv0ijMcBh— Nazanin Nour (@NazaninNour) May 4, 2023
6. “Without writers, Jenna Ortega will have nothing to punch up!” https://twitter.com/jennyyangtv/status/1653880070501724160?s=20
Jenna Ortega, who played Wednesday Addams in Netflix’s Wednesday, recently made some comments about changing lines for the show. In a podcast interview with Armchair Expert, Ortega said, “There were times on that set where I even became unprofessional, in a sense, where I just started changing lines. The script supervisor thought I was going with something, and then I would have to sit down with the writers, and they’d be like, ‘Wait, what happened to the scene?’ And I would have to go through and explain why I couldn’t do certain things.”
"WITHOUT WRITERS, JENNA ORTEGA WILL HAVE NOTHING TO PUNCH UP!— Jenny Yang is in LA Sun May 21st 4pm Self Help Me (@jennyyangtv) May 3, 2023
by @Variety #WritersStrike #WritersGuildofAmerica pic.twitter.com/wk3gJL1NsT
7. “Maybe have A.I. run your little “board mtg” https://twitter.com/BrittWoodsy/status/1654329855616614400?s=20
The second stop today was the CBS Radford picket line. Signs were fantastic today Keep up the fight! @WGAWest #wgastrike #wgastrong pic.twitter.com/COK2Ajuktk— Brittany Woodside (@BrittWoodsy) May 5, 2023
This sign makes fun of the powers that be at the top, begging the question: Could we ever cut costs from the top down, instead of starting with the bottom? Unfortunately, it’s uncertain we’ll ever see this sort of scenario realized, because, logically, we have to cut costs from the bottom to the top … logically … not for any other reason, right?
8. “Don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s streaming.”
The saturation of TV and film with streaming wars means studios are throwing millions into marketing and even into singular episodes while they are still turning lower profits. The industry is stretched thin, and the common writers are some of the first to lose out. So, no, as this sign says, it’s not raining; the studios are pissing on your leg and calling it streaming.
hmm... great writing #WritersGuildofAmerica #writersstrike pic.twitter.com/XM0n4Akpce— Jacques Hyzagi (@jacques_hyzagi) May 3, 2023
9. “AMPTPeepee” https://twitter.com/jennyyangtv/status/1653889267318521856?s=20
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers could have never seen this one coming. Chat GPT just couldn’t balance such a light-hearted, perfectly stupid play on words — and perhaps it is even a contemporary dada masterpiece? Think about it.
"AMPTPeepee"— Jenny Yang is in LA Sun May 21st 4pm Self Help Me (@jennyyangtv) May 3, 2023
@thefawz #WritersStrike #WritersGuildofAmerica pic.twitter.com/7fQFi3FTWn
10. “Without writers, Tanya’s death will never be avenged.” http s://twitter.com/EmaJuarezOk/status/1653606423836631040?s=20
HBO’s kooky femme fatale Tanya Mellote took an equally kooky and fatal plunge at the end of The White Lotus’ past season. As this sign remarks, how must we ever avenge this character if writers aren’t given resources to live and write?
Alto spoiler, pero quiero expresar mis respetos a quien diseñó este cartel. #WGAStrike #WritersStrike pic.twitter.com/XUmR8VtYR4— Emanuel Juárez (@EmaJuarezOk) May 3, 2023