Editor’s note: The co-creator and showrunner of Mrs. Davis, Tara Hernandez has put artificial intelligence at the center of her creativity in the recently completed Peacock limited series. Today, in a guest column on the Writers Guild of American strike, the young sheldon The writers room student has a different point of view on AI and the notion of the individual in a larger collective
Until three weeks ago, when the WGA leadership called this walkout and called on members to cut all ties to the studios, effectively ending any promotional activity, I had spent the last few months on a press tour for a series that I co-created in which an all-powerful artificial intelligence is the title character. So, I chose to open this article the way many journalists started our interviews, allowing ChatGPT to do my job for me.
When the message was fed: Hello ChatGPT, how should I, Tara Hernandez, open this Deadline article about my feelings on the strike? — the chatbot spat out the following response: Beep-boop. Beep-boop. Recoil. Recoil. Recoil. Fart.
Good, good, you got me. Is not true.
I didn’t check ChatGPT before writing this.
In fact, I haven’t even used ChatGPT, which could be argued to be insane and ignorant given the nature of the aforementioned series and you wouldn’t get any pushback from me. However, I wanted to open this piece with a joke. One where I could sneak the word ‘fart’ into the first hundred characters in a juvenile attempt to properly gauge the reader’s expectations of what kind of piece this is going to be.
Because it turns out that, despite the current work stoppage, I am a writer through and through. So when I was given carte blanche to discuss anything I wanted, my first instinct was to complain. And my current problem is the popular rally cry and email signature du jour: in solidarity. Yes, I understand that this is a labor movement. One that requires collective action. But solidarity disgusts me, because it does not recognize the individual. And there is no group more diverse, more individual than the creative ones.
Take this column as an example. Last week, writer, producer, musician, and activist Boots Riley delivered a beautiful meditation on the struggle to navigate the ego during action. And I chose to open my piece with flatulence. Because diffusion through humor is kind of my modus operandi.
If Groucho glasses were prescription, I would have several pairs.
Look, it occurred to me to write comedy. And not just any comedy, a multi-camera comedy.
What some might call the tough jokes. And others, many of whom are lurking in the comments section of this very outlet, would say that these are nothing more than chill-inducing mockery of the English language, so why not find the nearest bridge and jump off it? dookie horse sack
I wish I was joking…
But you learn very quickly that inside the comedy cafeteria there are many tables to park your trays. The half-hour writing, the cool kids squinting and it’s a sitcom and then there’s… CBS.
However, I fully accepted my position among the laugh nerds and carried out my work with pride. Those dick jokes bought me a house, yo! And while I refuse to acknowledge the labels on a possibly expired Chobani when it’s the only thing in my fridge and running to Ralph seems so exhausting, I recognize that we writers cannot deny our own inherent snobbery, or basic need to organize one another. others, and ourselves, in this high-low-front creative class system.
That’s why you’ll have to forgive my apprehension about “in solidarity.”
Solidarity suggests unity in action and feeling. And while 97.9% of us recognized the need for this strike, I can bet we all feel 4,527 different ways about it.
That’s why being a writer and a proud member of a Union can sometimes be challenging.
Now, don’t get me wrong, pencils down, picketing is the only (I repeat: only!) way by which a fair contract will be achieved. But sometimes, just sometimes, I find our kumbaya, we’re all together in this rhetoric to erase the things that make this the preferred profession of outcasts, weirdos, and cross-eyed cool kids and it’s a comedy.
Having been a proud member of this guild for over a decade, I find this Union to be far from a solid, uniform mass, but more like those rubber band balls you lazily play on when the room is jammed on. the second act because Network suddenly got “nerved” by the chain-smoking chimpanzee, it’s four o’clock and where’s Todd with the coffee?
A rubber band ball bounces higher the tighter it’s held together, all right, but it’s still made up of individual bands, each with their own identities, lived experiences, and reasons for wanting to become a rubber band in the first place.
Now, I need to applaud our strike captains and member leaders for organizing the special pickets.
Not only are they energizing in nature, but the calendar itself is a great reminder of our growing and diverse guild membership. Black? Middle East? Asian? Are you a Canadian trekkie who has a one-legged dog and loves to sing karaoke with Taylor Swift? Then we have a picket line for you. And if you haven’t attended one of these theme days yet, I highly recommend it. I only spent a few hours on the NBCU picket line organized by The List last week, and my ears are still ringing. They all brought it strong, they brought it proud, and my heart is full of joy.
But even as I walked side by side with my family, I was forced to confront my individual identity within this larger community.
As the Spanish chants played, I quickly remembered that I’m a Mexican American pancha, which means I don’t speak Spanish. I don’t mention this to garner sympathy or scorn, but rather as an illustration that my path is not her path, not his path, or their path. We walk along these lines together, but our stories are our own.
And if this all sounds a little screwed up, a little too emotional or heartfelt, well, that’s the point. Why aren’t we fighting for our humanity? Because of the multitudes within us that separate us from the AI? Because if we don’t recognize our individuality, we’re really no better than robots.
Do you remember the series I mentioned earlier? The one with artificial intelligence? Well, I’m not going to tell you to watch it, because I don’t have permission to, but I do recognize that creating the Ms. No-Name series has uniquely positioned me at this time. Having spent the last few years immersed in the problems we face today. And I can promise you that there is no art in artificial intelligence. And without this fight, our industry will be nothing more than regurgitated bits of words that The Suits wrap themselves in a cloak and call a summer blockbuster.
So, I say: alone we walk. In solidarity we stand up.
Whatever your picket personality, I salute you.
Whether you’re a solo strutting headphone enthusiast or a five-batch-a-day megaphone enthusiast. There has to be space and compassion for all of us. As for me, I will be the pregnant woman who drinks Dasani and panic-walks to the nearest bathroom. You can join me if you want as long as you don’t see any headphones.
That’s my story, and I’ll stick to it. In English, of course.
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