By the time these words are published, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) will be on strike.
Who cares? You care because within its ranks are the kind scribes who write all the shows you stream and movies you watch when dropping in to see what condition the human condition is in.
Though I’m not presently in the guild, as you might expect, I’m personally both pro-worker and pro-word (disclaimer: the views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the corporation that owns them).
My guildlessness isn’t due to a refusal to join any club that would have someone like me as a member (thanks, Groucho); I’m just one of the lucky ones who hasn’t made it in the screentrade yet. As Michael Schulman reported in The New Yorker, when Hulu’s hit show, The Bear, won the WGA Award for Comedy Series, one of its writers, Alex O’Keefe, “went to the ceremony with a negative bank account and a bow tie that he’d bought on credit.”
O’Keefe is apparently applying for jobs at movie theaters in anticipation of the strike. I’m forgoing The Bear and name dropping him here in solidarity. It’s the least I can do for a comrade while enjoying the relative comfort of this Starbucks and security as an alt-weekly hack.
Speaking of Starbucks—their workers are organizing. Ditto Amazon’s. And locally, Copperfield’s Books Petaluma employees have voted to unionize (see “By the Book,” page 8). Even I was briefly a local “chapel chair” of the Communication Workers of America (a newspaper writers union, among other vocations). I’ve occasionally asked myself, “Should we organize our newsroom?” The fact is we’d have to have a newsroom first.
Since the pandemic, we all work remotely (which vindicates a career-long predilection of mine), and by we, I mean me and Carruthers. Both of us are editors, which is technically management, and thus the enemy.
Like Harvey Dent said in The Dark Knight, “You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” One of the great movie quotes of the early 21st century—and, of course, written by a guild member.
Now that they’re striking, may they strike gold.
Daedalus Howell is the writer-director of the feature films ‘Pill Head’ and the upcoming ‘Wolf Story.’