Emma Thompson is calling out the use of the word “content” in the streaming era in place of “stories.”

The Oscar winner, while in conversation with head of CAA Bryan Lourd at the Royal Television Society conference (via Variety), spoke out amid the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes in part over the use of AI and streaming residuals.

“I think the relationship between the executives and the creative branch just has to be much, much closer,” Thompson said. “To hear people talk about ‘content’ makes me feel like the stuffing inside a sofa cushion. ‘Content,’ what do you mean ‘content’? It’s just rude, actually. It’s just a rude word for creative people.”

She continued, “I know there are students in the audience: you don’t want to hear your stories described as ‘content’ or your acting or your producing described as ‘content.’ That’s just like coffee grounds in the sink or something. It’s, I think, a very misleading word. And I think it’s one of the things that maybe the language around the way in which we speak to one another, and the way in which the executives speak to creatives, the way in which we have to understand one another and combine better.”

“These formulas don’t work,” Thompson, who mentors up-and-coming talent through BAFTA, said, citing algorithms as a way to shape and determine content. “And then you sit there and you watch them and you wonder why, at the end of it, you feel a bit ill. And I think that’s something else that we don’t talk about as creators in television and in film. How does it make us feel inside ourselves after we’ve seen something?”

Thompson further added that the strikes are in response to a “very, very, very hard time” in Hollywood.

“People are suffering so much,” “Sense and Sensibility” star said. “Everyone is affected…It’s sort of hidden, as well, because there’s something about the words, ‘Oh, well, an actors strike‘ that doesn’t sound the same to people as ‘the doctors are on strike’ or ‘the miners are on strike.’ It’s got a different feel to it because we don’t work all the time and I suppose that’s the point is we’re self-employed.”

Filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn similarly criticized the purpose of “content” as a whole amid the strikes. Refn recently told IndieWire, “We produce content as a business, but we speak so rarely about why are we making content. What’s the meaning of it? We never talk about why we’re making content. We just talk about making content and more of it and as fast as possible, and everything is becoming a swipe, but that’s not necessarily a healthy mirror to society or us as people. The more empty it is, empty calories, the more you can consume it, the faster you can move past it. We have never made more content than ever I think in our history of content producing, and I believe most people spend their time on figuring out what not to watch rather than to watch. So, isn’t maybe that also part of the problem. I think it’s a much more philosophical question that is more complex than just narrowing it down to profits because it all just becomes about money at the moment.”

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