Film and television screenwriters across the U.S. are on strike, and many fans are showing their support on social media.
On Monday, May 1, the Writer’s Guild of America (WGA)(opens in a new tab), the organization representing screenwriters in the U.S., voted to call an industry strike, effective just after midnight Tuesday. The strike came after six weeks of failed contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP)(opens in a new tab), the the industry’s collective bargaining body that represents the studios in union negotiations.
For years, writers were paid through residuals from their programs being resold or syndicated on television, but streaming services pay fixed residuals that aren’t tied to the viewership of a program, which means writers overall see far less money from their work. The WGA is asking for higher fixed-residual earnings for streaming, and it wants to establish viewership-based streaming residuals. Additionally, the WGA wants to eliminate another side effect of the streaming era: “mini rooms,” or writers’ rooms with fewer writers that work for shorter amounts of time. The writers guild is also asking for regulations on the use of generative AI in writers’ rooms.(opens in a new tab) (The WGA has published a full list of its proposals(opens in a new tab) and the AMPTP’s counters.)
So the WGA’s 11,500 members have since halted work on current shows and won’t make negotiations for any further projects until a new deal is reached. The last WGA strike lasted 100 days from November 2007 to February 2008 and impacted many fan-favorite shows.
In the 15 years since the 2007 strike, writers became more visible on social media. Now, devoted fans stay connected to their favorite TV shows by following the writers on apps like Twitter, making the WGA’s message uniquely accessible to fans. In recent years, entertainment news aggregators — like Pop Base, Discussing Film, and Film Updates — exploded in popularity, delivering relevant news directly to stan Twitter.
Leijah “El” Alexander, a 20-year-old healthcare worker in Florida, is active in the Yellowjackets fan community on Twitter. “I follow all of the writers and a lot of the production crew. The writers interact with fans a lot,” she tells Mashable. Alexander learned about the writers’ strike from a Film Updates tweet and found out Yellowjackets ceased production on Season 3 from series co-creator, Ashley Lyle. In a tweet Lyle wrote(opens in a new tab), “Well, we had exactly one day back in the Yellowjackets S3 writers’ room. It was amazing, creatively invigorating, and so much fun, and I am very excited to get back as soon as the WGA gets a fair deal.”
“Pretty much everyone [in the Yellowjackets fandom] unanimously agrees that the writers need to be paid more, not just for the sake of the show, but because everyone should be able to afford to live,” Alexander tells Mashable. “It’s ridiculous that someone can work in Hollywood and still not afford to live.”
But not all fan responses to the strike are so harmonious. When The Los Angeles Times(opens in a new tab) reported that shows like Abbott Elementary and Stranger Things might be affected, some fans began to grumble about possible delays. In response to the anti-strike sentiment, a 21-year-old student and Stranger Things stan in Florida who goes by the pseudonym Ariana on Twitter, crafted a tweet, saying(opens in a new tab), “it looks like Stranger Things could be delayed by the writers strike, and I just wanted to take this opportunity to remind everyone that the writers getting the right amount of compensation for the hard work they do on the show is much more important than it’s release date.” Her tweet received over 15,100 likes and 2,100 retweets.
“I saw people outside of the Stranger Things fandom complaining about the possibility that their comfort shows might be delayed or have setbacks. And it frustrated me because these [shows] are fiction, and it’s more important that real-life people are compensated for the work they’ve done,” she explains to Mashable.
Jamie Watson, a 25-year-old permanent substitute elementary school teacher in the suburbs of Chicago, also saw the news about Abbott Elementary and Stranger Things, two of her favorite shows. “I’m not too knowledgeable about the strike, but if it’s between millionaire companies and the working man, I’m supporting the worker. I support wealth distribution, livable wages, fair treatment in the workplace, and free healthcare,” Watson tells Mashable.
Photos from the picket line have also drawn attention to the strike on social media. Aurora Alumbaugh’s timeline became overrun with clever signs. One(opens in a new tab) that caught her — and seemingly all of Twitter’s — attention read, “Pay your writers or we will spoil Succession.” “Honestly, I wouldn’t blame them for spoiling, because they built Succession, and they have every right to burn it down,” the 20-year-old journalism student and Succession stan tells Mashable.
Like Watson, Alumbaugh supports the strike. “It’s crazy that this had to happen again. People haven’t learned that they should pay their writers what they’re due because shows wouldn’t be what they are without the brilliant minds behind them,” explains Alumbaugh. “It’s just insane to me that they can barely make a living off doing something that creates such a big impact in entertainment.”
I’m just someone who takes screenshots and posts them. I just show off how fantastic the writers’ work is.
Even though the show won’t be affected by the strike, Alumbaugh isn’t the only Succession fan advocating on behalf of the WGA. Anna Golez quote-tweeted the WGA West’s strike announcement with the message, “Succession and this account would be nothing without the show’s incredible writers. Support the strike!” to her over 276,000 followers. The 33-year-old social media manager runs the popular “no context succession” account(opens in a new tab) from her home in the Philippines, and her tweet featured a screenshot of Shiv Roy on the phone saying, “I’m ready. Let’s get started.”
“People ask me what makes Succession posts so viral, and I always say it’s because of the dialogue, the language, the writing is so specific,” Golez tells Mashable. “I’m just someone who takes screenshots and posts them. I just show off how fantastic the writers’ work is. Writing is work, and workers need to be compensated with living wages.”