Rage against the streaming studio system: worker resistance to Hollywood’s networked era

Aymar Jean Christian*, Chelsea Peterson-Salahuddin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Every global media conglomerate in the United States has a streaming video platform. Unlike their streaming competitors from Silicon Valley, the early years of Hollywood streaming push emerges from a Studio System. The emergent Streaming Studio System is not as integrated as the Classic Hollywood Studio System, but it shares some important similarities. Most important is the seamless integration of production, distribution, and exhibition. The streamers increasingly make and release projects exclusively to consumers via exhibition portals they control. But workers are fighting back against the power of the streamers as they exacerbate inequality and working conditions in the media industry, mirroring the widening inequality at the dawn of the twenty-first century. They are using the more open digital platforms to organize and share their stories. This article explores worker strategies for resisting Hollywood’s digital empire in three ways: (1) a survey of film/TV workers in Chicago, a regional hub for ‘runaway production’ where state tax credits lowers production costs to allow for increases in production; (2) an analysis of stories posted to the @ia_stories page of crew members represented by the IATSE union; and (3) an analysis of ‘above-the-line’ activism, including solidarity campaigns launched after the 2020 #BlackLivesMatter protests (e.g., #EndLatinXClusion, #Hollywood4BlackLives, #ChangeHollywood), contractual innovations from advocacy groups like Color of Change’s Inclusion Rider, and the threat of another Writers Guild strike.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)923-940
Number of pages18
JournalInformation Communication and Society
Volume26
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 2023

Keywords

  • Political economy
  • identity
  • media studies
  • race

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Library and Information Sciences

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