Former President Barack Obama has entered the entertainment industry with his production company, which has a deal with streaming company Netflix Inc NFLX. However, as the writer’s strike rages on, Obama has criticized the streaming industry for valuing their bottom line over fair compensation to writers.
What Happened: Writers have gone on strike as they demand royalties from streaming deals, which currently offer them minimal residuals. Another topic in the writer’s strike is the use of artificial intelligence, such as ChatGPT, to write and rewrite scripts, and how the credits and royalties would be factored in.
During an interview with Ira Glass on LinkedIn, Obama spoke out in support of writers.
“I know there are many studios and streamers who feel a little bit embattled and there’s been a little bit too much of a glut of product and they’re looking at their bottom line and their experiencing shareholder pressure,” Obama said.
Obama called for writers to be compensated and for a settlement to be reached. He is supportive of the Writers Guild and a fan of storytelling.
“The fact is, is that they [studios] would not be around if it weren’t for writers creating the stories that matter,” Obama emphasized.
The Writers Guild strike began on May 2 and negotiations with studios and streamers have so far failed to resolve the issue.
“I’m very supportive of the writers and the strike and I’m hopeful that they get a fair share of the fruits of their labor,” Obama said.
Obama noted that the entertainment industry is no exception when it comes to fair wages for all.
“My hope would be that… they keep in mind the creative people who are actually making the product that consumers appreciate and that gets exported all around the world,” Obama added.
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Why It’s Important: Obama’s criticism of streaming companies’ practices is noteworthy because he is promoting his limited series, “Working: What We Do All Day,” which airs on Netflix. The series is released by Higher Ground Productions, co-founded by Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama, and Concordia Studio. “Working” is a four-part documentary that follows workers in different sectors.
Many actors have supported the writers’ strike and spoken out against streaming companies, despite having shows on these platforms. Seth Rogen, for example, has criticized the salaries of streaming companies’ CEOs ahead of his series launch, “Platonic,” on AppleTV+.
Large names speaking out in support of writers could help drum up additional support.
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