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May 9, 2023

When the unions representing movie and television writers announced they would go on strike last week, my instinct was to join their side of the fight. Hey, I write, right? 

I didn’t even know what the dispute entailed, but I wanted to join my writing sisters and brothers to fight The Man. You know the one. He’s the cigar-smoking mogul, squeezing valuable art out of starving artists, so he can afford the ascots he wears and limos he rides to and from his Beverly Hills mansion every day. 

I’m sad to report that some small-time writer from Indiana can’t just join the Writers Guild of America. Even though the guild has 11,000 members, joining it usually requires an invitation. It may sound like a big club, but it is exclusive. Most Americans don’t know the names of WGA members, even its most accomplished ones. But we should. 

TV and film writers have always occupied a strange place in the universe. What we see on the screen are their ideas, imaginations and jokes, but they aren’t the stars. They aren’t the investors either, so their lack of fame is matched only by their lack of income. That isn’t new.

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