Tina Fey Is on the Picket Line, So Let's Look Back at One of 30 Rock's Many Poetry Jokes
At this moment in history, conversations about writing and writers are national and international news. The WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes are making headlines as writers and performers fight back against a lack of protections from technology that attempts to replicate what they do—this is a historic moment for creativity and creators everywhere.
AI poetry doesn’t threaten the art form, according to professor and Atlantic contributor Walt Hunter, because it can’t feel feelings. It can only replicate what poetry looks like, not what it can do to readers and writers:
The poems that ChatGPT writes are riddled with cliché and wince-worthy rhymes, but it isn’t just issues of quality that separate AI- and human-generated compositions. Poetry, whether in the style of Heaney or Dickinson or your journal from fourth grade, comes from the felt necessity to speak a truth…
Do we buy this? I don’t know. It’s hard to draw a parallel because television and film own the whole city while poetry sits in the back of that city’s forgotten dive bar drinking a beer and chuckling to itself. Poets don’t have the same kind of financial stake in the AI “question” because so few of us make our living from writing poetry: we mostly hold other jobs.
Right now, we have a chance to assert our values as human beings: art is a critical human enterprise, and people who make art that other people enjoy should be compensated fairly for it. Longterm, if we’re going to rely on machines to create things for us and put people out of jobs, we have to envision a future without work, but it’s abundantly clear we’re not ready to envision arrangements beyond work.
One day at a time y’all. And these days, Tina Fey—the writer and actor who famously played a writer on TV—is on the WGA/SAG-AFTRA picket line because Hollywood doesn’t want to pay its writers, though it loves to make television and movies about them!
We need a rallying cry like Fey’s Liz Lemon attempted to give her staff during 30 Rock’s final season, which she delivered with the help of a poet.
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