WGA writer explains strike

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February 1, 2008

12:24 PM

After four months of marching picket lines, TV writer and producer Aaron Peters ’95, a Writers’ Guild of America member for eight years, is exhausted. Last night, he gave a lecture entitled “Can Writers Take Control? The Writers Strike, New Media and the Possibilities for Writer-Produced Content,” he laid out the ideology of the strike, stressing the hurt the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers plans to put on the 10,500 guild members.

p. The stress of securing income is nothing new for writers. At any given time, “half the members of the WGA are unemployed. Everyone is basically a hustler,” Peters said. For the bulk of the guild, residuals mean food on the table. Guild members demand the residuals from the perpetuation of their creations — TV reruns, continued retail sales and, increasingly, the streaming and downloading of content over the internet. Four months without income is tough for any family to weather; some writers face the threat of losing their homes, while others were unable to afford Christmas gifts for their children.

p. The strike, however, has not been entirely dreadful. Peters has met more writers in the past four months than he has in his entire life. Mandatory daily marches of two to four hours have forced writers out of their workspaces and into an elbow-to-elbow community of fellow strikers. Fans and actors as well have joined the marches in support. According to Peters, fans of the hit Sci-Fi series “Battlestar Galactica” seem the most ardent, flying in from all over the country to support their favorite show’s creators, picking their brains as they shuffle.

p. Fortunately for us, Peters thinks the guild should reach a settlement by February 24, the day of the 2008 Academy Awards. He says everyone — writers, networks and the public — want to see the Oscars run as planned. “It would be a shame for the tradition of the Academy Awards to fade away as the result of this strike.”

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