Thursday, June 1, 2023

Can The Writers’ Strike Fix Hollywood? – Seconds in Panama

If you care about originality, it’s a real lose-win-win strike scenario: writers end up with a fair slice of an industry that’s moving further and further away from creativity.

This is my attempt to summarize the context of the Hollywood writers’ strike in three sentences. First, the entertainment business, buoyed by easy money and the unusual circumstances of the COVID-19 era, committed itself to a perpetual expansion: the great experiment in streaming, with each major brand going to have its own Netflix.

Then, as it became clear that this growth would be unsustainable, studios and streaming services began squeezing more and more out of their writers, with longer, less predictable hours and less long-term rewards, even when corporate companies were forced into artificial expected to find. Wisdom is a way of making some of the screenwriter’s duties obsolete.

This context makes the writers’ demands reasonable and fair, but it also means that the strike may lose even if it wins: concessions around pay and working hours as a prelude to further contraction, and Hollywood Shows declined in the number of productions that required a script.

For those of us who watch and write about TV shows and movies and don’t believe them, the question is what is the meaning of this struggle for art that justifies all these commercial disputes.

One Narrative sees an opportunity in the strike to rethink the way Hollywood is widely developed, particularly the Marvel-era obsession with franchises, reimaginings and sell-out narratives, which have been variously blamed on venture capitalists in Hollywood. is attributed to the mentality of J.K., who is insane. Benefits or effects of consolidation in the film business.

In this context, monopoly critic Matt Stoller argues that the strikers’ aim should be to find allies in the face of major structural change: the dismantling of vertically structured corporate giants, once again separating production and distribution and thus creating an alchemical medium. The budget film is more competitive with superhero exploits.

A slightly more downbeat analysis, offered by authors such as Sonny Bunch and Jessa Crispin, asserts that the corporate strategy of exploiting superheroes evolved because it is giving the public what it wants. People are buying tickets for the comic book movie and “Super Mario Bros. The Movie,” the Bunch notes, not “AIR: The Story Behind the Logo” or “The Last Showdown.”

The fan culture that sustains these projects, Crispin argues, often likens its writers to interchangeable cogs in a content machine. And so, even though the strike is an opportunity for rethinking, it is probably not something that can take advantage of it to completely change the system.

Personally, I’d like to see a strike signal for the creation of a different system in Hollywood. But I yearn for a return to the entertainment landscape of about 10 years ago, before streaming took off, when the losses of the special effects franchise in movies were partially offset by the emergence of a better television, one with more depth and more ambition. was with.

My impression, as an observer of what has happened since then, is that the expansion of streaming first welcomed an abundance of ambition on the small screen, but then increasingly felt like it was spreading creative talent too thinly, with which it is working. Both.

Sometimes shows from the pinnacle era of television get off to a great start, but then struggle to maintain their momentum even through the second season. (“HBO’s Westworld,” for example, or more recently Showtime’s “Yellowjackets”)

Sometimes they come off as thin imitations of the anti-hero dramas of the last decade. (For example, Netflix’s “Ozark.”) Or they take on the character of the theatrical experience, albeit somewhat poorly, of franchise huge fails that no one really enjoys. (“Obi-Wan Kenobi”, for example, or “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power”). Or are they asking too much from a talented writer-producer who is increasingly being paid to deliver a variety of content rather than focus on a single story. (The development of Taylor Sheridan’s “Yellowstone” and its disappointing spinoff series are examples.)

In theory, the strike scenario and its consequences I outlined earlier—where writers get better working conditions and higher pay, but then the total number of show contracts decline as streaming platforms retire or merge. Let’s go – some kind of resolution can also be brought on the issue of this expansion. Perhaps this creates a world where the talent in the writers’ room is better balanced and more focused, where writer-producers don’t get as many opportunities to build empires, but the shows they make are all the better for it.

This is clearly not the result the union is hoping for, as it would mean less writing work. But for audiences, a world with fewer shows can also be a world with better shows.

The darker take, however, is that any shrinking of the streaming landscape is likely to be coupled with rapid television imitation of the big screen franchise model. In that case, we can get more and more blockbuster TV shows as a safer, but less creative bet, while losing out on some of the best TV’s haphazard experiments, like the happy accident of “The White Lotus,” whose Drama tourism emerged during the COVID lockdown, or the spectacular “Endor,” as a way to film a “Star Wars” series without a commercial name or Baby Yoda.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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