Hollywood’s writers are on strike, and a number of notables are showing solidarity, such as film producer Boots Riley.
The 2023 Writers Guild of America strike is a labor dispute between the Writers Guild of America labor union and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which began on May 2. The main contention in the labor dispute is the residuals from streaming media. The WGA claims that AMPTP’s share of such residuals has reduced writers’ average incomes. Writers also wanted artificial intelligence, such as ChatGPT, to be used only as a tool that can help research or facilitate script ideas and not as a replacement for them.
Boots Riley not only agrees with the WGA, he is a member of the WGA. The successful Hollywood filmmaker is also a communist activist.
The 47-year-old Riley, who is also a hip-hop artist, made his feature film directorial debut with the film “Sorry to Bother You” in 2018. He was a founding member of The Coup. He is also the creator of the new Amazon Original Series “I Am a Virgo” set to be released this summer.
He recently wrote an article for Deadline on why he supports the strike.
“I’m in the Writer’s Guild of America, and I’m also in the Directors Guild of America. I’m one of those so-called multi-hyphenates,” he said, noting he has had to put the promotion of his new series on hold.
“I thought I’d be able to promote the series that I’d created, directed, co-show run, and worked on for four years. Now the show will likely come out during this strike which means I won’t be able to promote it at all,” he shared.
While the strike puts his own creation o hold, he said he understands it.
“For further context: I’ve made art — songs, music videos, theater, and movies — about political struggles for all of my life,” he wrote. “Since the age of 14, I’ve also been involved in helping people organize their job — from farmworkers to fast food workers. I’ve helped out with strikes. I’ve helped Greyhound bus drivers and Watsonville cannery workers keep out scabs, helped call for and organize the Occupy Oakland general strike, which had 50,000 people march, join with longshore workers and shut down the Port of Oakland. I’ve worked in factories and distribution centers and been a Teamster.”
Still, he’s never been on strike himself.
“But this is the first time I’ve actually been on strike myself,” he admitted.
Riley is also against the use of AI in place of writers.
“Besides AI potentially killing film and TV industry jobs and basically being a stealing machine, producing soulless dreck, it’s insidiously working its way through many facets of our lives — eventually allowing its wielders unscrupulous control over culture and even thought processes in ways more thorough than before,” he noted.
Boots Riley arrives at the 34th Film Independent Spirit Awards on Feb. 23, 2019, in Santa Monica, Calif. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)