The surprising lessons we can learn from the delay of Stranger Things
Written by Vivienne Ong | Edited by He Ruiming
You may have seen the news of the production of your favourite shows getting postponed – Marvel’s Blade, Stranger Things, yada yada yada.
Why is this happening?
Well, it’s because the Writers Guild of America (WGA) is trying to get better working conditions for writers. (You can read more at GQ, Vox, and CNBC)
Here’s what you can learn from it.
Localised expertise is a great USP
When I saw this sign, I immediately understood the leverage that the writers in the US had.
That leverage is a cultural understanding of what life is like in the US; the world's largest economy, and the world’s most monetisable audience.
This allows them to write relatable stories with depth, sensitivity and nuance based on their experiences in the US, whether it’s in Brooklyn or Texas or New York. These stories are what US audiences would watch, and also what advertisers, networks and audiences would pay money for.
What is an example of this playing out in Singapore?
Localised expertise matters in some fields.
For example, An American lawyer won’t be able to understand Singapore law and work here.
Similarly, a Singapore harbour pilot is an expert on the local waterways and hazards, allowing them to berth ships weighing over thousands of tons safely.
Last but not least, a personal finance blog such as ours can cover local topics such as CPF, SRS and HDB – in a way that US financial bloggers cannot do.
But what if you don’t have localised expertise?
If you don’t have localised expertise, then your competition will be global.
You might not always feel this, but it’s already happening. This is even more true if you work for companies that have globalised operations.
The median gross salary of a Singaporean graduate in 2022 is SGD $4,200.
A Malaysian? SGD $750.
If your work is indistinguishable from what a Malaysian can do, then it’s just common sense for the business to hire a Malaysian.
This is why we’re seeing certain jobs getting outsourced to our Southeast Asian neighbours as a bid for companies to cut labour costs.
As Southeast Asians get better, more educated and more skilled, even more job functions will be outsourced easily thanks to technology and remote working.
They do not even need to come to your country to compete with you.
American writers are also facing the same problem as us
Having localised expertise is excellent. But sometimes it’s not enough.
Just 20 years ago, K-Pop wasn’t a thing, we all wanted the latest American brands, and we only watched local television or US-based shows.
The meta is now shifting – for a while now, Asian content has grown in international appeal and popularity.
BTS has taken the world by storm. Parasite won the Oscars in 2020. Anime is a global phenomenon. We enjoy watching episodes of Indian Matchmaking in the office.
American content no longer has a monopoly over the entertainment scene. And thus, US writers are also feeling the effects of global competition.
In fact, while the writer's strike continues against the big media conglomerates, some media giants don’t seem too worried.
For example: Netflix’s co-chief Executive said that they had a large base of shows and films from around the world to fill the void of content being produced.
So whether you’re in entertainment or not, this is a sobering reminder to all – that companies can find options overseas, and they no longer have to tap on local talent to survive.
These global companies can tap into solutions from all over the world.
When workers from one country decide to stop working, it’s an opportunity for other workers elsewhere to get work.
AI is coming for us – whether we like it or not
A big conversation around the writer’s strike is the lack of clarity over the usage of AI.
Writers are asking that the usage of AI to be regulated. They also do not want studios to be able to use the writers’ original material as source material for AI to generate new scripts.
And why wouldn’t they? While AI has its limitations, we’ll be the first to admit that it’s terrifying and has the potential to replace many of us.
We put in a prompt on Chat GPT for fresh grad and finances. And its reply? Pretty decent tbh.
So instead of dismissing AI completely, it may be better for us to learn about the beast to know how to rise above it when it threatens our livelihoods.
Here are some principles of how we’re approaching this:
Acknowledge that companies will try their best to use AI to cut costs.
If you can be the one that implements this, your job is relatively safe.
Acknowledge that government protection, if any, will take a while
Hope for the best that the authorities will act in the interest of the masses, but also prepare for the worst; enforcement will likely be difficult.
Accept that AI will take over many jobs.
There are already professional headshot generators to replace photographers, AI-generated art to replace artists and even AI-generated copy.
Upskill or reskill. Staying stagnant will be your demise. We’ve written about this before.
The writer’s strike far away in the US may not seem relatable, but they’re fighting many of the same forces Singaporeans are
It’s tempting to think that the problems we face here are uniquely Singaporean.
But in reality, everyone around the world is competing with global talent, and automation to some degree. Whether you’re an auditor at a Big 4 Firm or a hit drama writer, the same rules apply.
For better or worse, this is the world we all live in now.
All the best, good luck, and see you in a bit.
Stay woke, salaryman.
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