It’s too bad it’s only May, because there are three Christmas ghosts out there who are positively itching to pay Warner Bros. Discovery boss David Zaslav a visit. Luckily, the students at Boston University were more than happy to take up the cause during his commencement speech at the school’s graduation ceremony today. Zaslav was announced as the special guest speaker more than a week after the WGA strike started, despite the fact that he’s the main executive at one of the main studios that the writers are striking against. Rather than just an unfortunate bit of timing with the strike going on, it was hard to take the announcement as anything but an outright insult to the WGA, working writers, and anyone who supports their noble cause.
And that seems to be how at least some of the attendees of the commencement ceremony took it as well. As noted by The Hollywood Reporter, Zaslav’s speech was interrupted multiple times by shouts from the audience, including calls of “We don’t want you here,” “shut up Zaslav,” and—most poetically—“fuck you, you piece of shit” (never change, Boston). There are also videos going around on social media of Zaslav having to stop his speech due to loud “Pay your writers” chants or from the roars of mocking laughter at his suggestion that being successful requires “getting along with difficult people” and that some of people are “looking for a fight.”
THR also points out that there was a “wave of angry chants and boos” when Zaslav brought up his successful career as a lawyer, noting, “I was making good money, I was feeling really great.” (That specific moment has also been immortalized in a soon-to-be historic photo). It seems like, for those of us who weren’t there, that Zaslav’s speech was as stunningly out-of-touch with reality as the decision to host him was in the first place, which speaks to a general contempt he seems to have for… oh, let’s say everyone.
This is a man who was put in charge of a massive media empire, and the most notable things he has done with that power are burn money, dismantle one of the most prestigious brands in entertainment, double-dip on promoting J.K. Rowling, kick off the now-common trend of studios deleting content from their streaming services and making it completely inaccessible in some cases, and—how can we forget?—driving the writers who make his shows and movies to go on a strike that may soon lead to similar strikes from the DGA and SAG-AFTRA that would render Hollywood completely motionless.
Zaslav has overseen a run at Warner Bros. Discovery that seems to reflect nothing but absolute disgust for culture, to the extent that the company is not only getting rid of art that already exists, but it’s doing its best to make sure that there is less art to enjoy in the future. Anyone involved in that should be expecting more than a few boos in the future.