Strike Emphasizes Writers Importance

By: Zinn Jeremiah

Even the casual person, someone who has little to no interest in the entertainment industry, is likely aware of the ongoing screenwriters' strike. The reason for this awareness is pretty basic: product from the television and movie industries has pretty well stopped due to the strike. Though the screenwriters' strike hasn't been beneficial to anyone, at least not at this point, it does serve to demonstrate how vital screenwriters are to the entertainment industry. Simply put, without output from screenwriters the entertainment industry grinds to a halt.

The importance of screenwriters is certainly a surprise to some. The person who goes to the movies or turns on the television in most cases doesn't give much if any thought to how movies or television shows come together; and to be quite frank, there really isn't significant reason for them to care. Barring the person who either works in or is interested in the entertainment industry, how the industry actually works isn't at all relevant. Be that is it may, going back to the very beginnings of entertainment itself, output has mostly come from words written out on a page.

William Shakespeare, perhaps the most influential writer ever, was in fact a performance writer. Shakespeare was a playwrights, and plays are the foundation for the movies and television shows we watch today. The notion that actors essentially did as they pleased on stage, perhaps with slight input from Shakespeare, is ludicrous. Shakespeare wrote a series of scenes or sonnets that connected into some form of logical story, and the actors memorized and then performed what Shakespeare had written. Any form of acted drama then has basically always needed some form of written script to be performed.

Some may point to the golden age of radio as a possible exception. When radio was the primary means of mass communication, before television saturated the market, radio was about more than just music: every form of entertainment and communication was provided by radio, from news to situational comedies. Even then, the dramas and comedies performed on radio were written and rehearsed prior to being performed. This is an obvious conclusion if for no other reason than financial and business interests. There isn't an entertainment network in existence that would invest resources in programming without knowing how that programming would play out. Commercial entertainment scripts then provide details used for business purposes as much as they do direction for actors.

It's a certainty that the screenwriters' strike will eventually be settled. The financial implications, both for the screenwriters and for the entertainment producers, are too vast to let the dispute drag on indefinitely. If nothing else however, the screenwriters' strike has demonstrated how absolutely vital writers are to the entertainment industry.



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