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Hollywood Learns The Downsides Of Mass Manufacturing Leftist Drivel With AI

With the advent of streaming and artificial intelligence, it’s understandable why screenwriters feel like they’re in a vulnerable position.

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You’ve probably heard by now that the Writers Guild of America (WGA) is on strike. According to the labor union and its affiliates — representing just fewer than 12,000 writers across traditional and digital media — the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), the group representing corporate studios and streaming services, would not grant union writers “a new contract with fair pay that reflects the value of our contribution to company success.”

The strike is already causing an effect as multiple live programs — such as “Saturday Night Live” and other late-night series — are now on hiatus while popular shows such as Netflix’s “Stranger Things” and ABC’s “Abbott Elementary” halted production. 

In a memo released prior to the strike, WGA argued that “writers are finding their work devalued in every part” of entertainment through visual entertainment’s overwhelming transition to streaming. 

The union said:

The companies have used the transition to streaming to cut writer pay and separate writing from production, worsening working conditions for series writers at all levels. On TV staffs, more writers are working at minimum regardless of experience, often for fewer weeks, or in mini-rooms, while showrunners are left without a writing staff to complete the season. And while series budgets have soared over the past decade, median writer-producer pay has fallen.

Of WGA’s 14 listed demands, 12 pertain to compensation and employee benefits in some form. So it seems that at the heart of the issue is a desire for more compensation, which is the case in most strikes. And frankly, the desire for greater compensation makes sense.

In recent years, if someone was a staff writer on a popular, syndicated network television series, he would receive compensation for his time in the writing room as well as residual compensation each time his work was aired. Every time an old episode of “Cheers” aired, Glen Charles got a stack of checks in the mail. But the advent of streaming enabled the elimination or at least the reduction of direct-to-consumer advertisement in visual entertainment along with the capacity for infinite content consumption at the low cost of a monthly subscription fee.

Series are also experiencing drastically shortened runtimes and overall lifespans while simultaneously having massive upticks in production costs; it often costs tens of millions of dollars to produce a single hour of television. Even a program as unimpressive as “Carpool Karaoke” costs $2 million to produce. Couple this with the constant rate at which content — most of which is schlock, to be fair —  must be churned out due to increased customer demand, and you have writers doing far more work and not being compensated as they would have just five or 10 years ago.

According to WGA’s assessment of AMPTP financial reports, when adjusting for inflation, writer pay has declined by 23 percent over the past decade while its members’ work created billions of dollars for AMPTP companies that it believes were unfairly distributed

To be sure, this is not a defense of the WGA. It is an observation of how an entire business model changed and subsequently affected the people involved. There will be no spilled milk over the grievances of insufferably smug leftist ideologues who delight in mainstreaming what overwhelmingly amounts to cultural rot.

But that being said, one of WGA’s demands not pertaining to compensation, an insistence that AMPTP “regulate use of material produced using artificial intelligence or similar technologies,” particularly stands out.

Despite being incredibly out of touch with reality, Hollywood writer types appear to be aware, in some form, of the threat artificial intelligence poses to the industry, but more specifically, the existential threat it poses to art. How could they not be? These are the same people who made “Terminator.”

Artificial intelligence is a simulacrum of man’s functionality. It is a synthetic medium with the ability to mimic humanity. It has an immense capacity for solving step-by-step problems, and with a theoretically unbridled potential powered by algorithmic machine learning, it has the ability to perform ever-increasingly complex tasks. It could explain the methodology of Shakespeare better than Shakespeare. If it’s a powerful enough tool to implicate someone in pornographic materials, who’s to say it couldn’t be used to generate scripts for an entire season of “The Simpsons”?

Despite this technology being used in Hollywood for years already (de-aging, post-production touch-ups, etc.), it appears WGA is primarily concerned with how increasingly sophisticated generative chatbot programs, such as Chat GPT, could be used to cut union members out of the creative process, therefore limiting opportunities for work.

That said, artificial intelligence, as earlier stated, is a simulacrum of man’s functionality. It may be able to perform complex tasks and can create interesting things, like showing you what every U.S. president might look like if he were a Muppet, but because it isn’t human, it can neither create art nor innovate as these require the synthesis of a human soul and man’s ability for real-time problem-solving.

At the time of this writing, WGA has not responded to The Federalist’s request for comment on how AI could affect employment opportunities for writers or how its utilization will affect the artistic process of filmmaking, but one can reasonably speculate that overreliance on it in storytelling — in the short to medium terms — could result in an abundance of visual stimulation with little to no actual substance.

Artificial intelligence lacks human qualities that are essential to the creation and interpretation of art. It does not possess creativity, imagination, intentionality, or a human soul, but it is capable of incredibly advanced algorithmic curations in which it can access and process a wealth of digitized information in nanoseconds. But art is inherently an expression of the human experience, not of machine learning; even if studios are able to fully incorporate these systems into the screenwriting process, they jeopardize the very nature of the craft they turn into a product. 

But, of course, this would require corporate studios to prioritize storytelling instead of laundering leftist talking points into the public consciousness.


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