What is Tree Law? Memes explained as WGA strike creates niche trend

Christy Mathew
tree law goes viral after the tree pruning outside Universal Pictures

The Writer’s Guild of America’s (WGA) strike has seen a new development, as the term ‘Tree law’ has become a viral sensation, as social media users go crazy with memes.

Earlier in May, after the failed negotiations with the AMPTP (Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers), the WGA went on strike with 11,000 screenwriters as they demanded better pay and a greater share of profits from streaming services.

With similar requests, the American actors union (SAG-AFTRA) also went on strike following the WGA, which was noted as the very first time since the 1960s, that both actors and writers protested together, interrupting the industry.

Social media users look up ‘Tree law’

The new twist came about when people on strike went outside Universal Studios, to surprisingly find the trees pruned which were providing them with shade amidst the extreme heat in Los Angeles. They wasted no time in assuming that this move was made in vengeance.

This led to social media users looking for tree statutes in the city to know if the studio was allowed to prune trees during this season. “Whoever ‘trimmed’ those trees may have just killed a bunch of trees on city property, that weren’t theirs to trim. Get ready for a find and sanctions,” wrote a user.

A comedy writer took to the platform to poke fun at the Studios, giving rise to the search for ‘Tree law,’ something not a lot of people are likely to have heard of.

The writer, Chris Stephens, tweeted about his frustration on July 17, as he sarcastically thanked the Studios for trimming the trees.

According to Chris, the trees were pruned so that the studios could hamper the strikes from picketing by taking away the shade of the trees in the summer heat.

These strikes can have an immediate effect on the Studios’ production of the upcoming Oppenheimer film. Although there are no leads on who actually pruned the trees, many users on Twitter are assuming that the Tree law would prevent anybody from doing so, and might land the guilty party in legal trouble.

Tree law gave rise to memes

Stephens’ tweet gained millions of views, leading a whole group of people to be intrigued about these rules which multiple users have never known about.

The tweet led to memes on ‘Tree law’ as it became one of the major topics of discussion on Twitter, also bringing to light the seriousness of the WGA strike.

Many users poked fun at the incident as they chanted Tree law. “I love how the entire internet is chanting TREE LAW like a coven of gleefully vengeful witches cackling into their enormous cauldron,” one user said.

Another meme showcased a comic strip making an indirect joke about Universal Pictures and the strike.

Another wrote that they would like to wish Universal a very merry Tree law as others joked a whole ‘branch’ of justice has come upon them.

As the term went viral on Twitter, it got the attention of the Los Angeles city controller who assured people that the case is being investigated.

Meanwhile, Universal Studio revealed to Deadline that the trees were trimmed in an annual pruning.