The Writers Guild of America (WGA) has been engaged in a strike for several months, primarily due to concerns about the implementation of AI technology and the more common issues relating to pay and benefits that are typical in labor unions. Recently, the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) has also joined the strike. The last instance of both unions striking together occurred during Ronald Reagan’s presidency.
Both writers and actors are demanding what they consider to be a just portion of the unprecedented profits being generated by studios and streaming platforms. Prominent figures spanning from A-listers to lesser-known actors are utilizing their social media platforms to clarify their participation in the strike, express solidarity with fellow union members, and propose potential resolutions. As of July 13, 2023, the strike has garnered the support of over 160,000 actors, as reported by SAG President Fran Drescher.
Celebrities in informal attire are forming a picket line stretching from Hollywood to New York, displaying signs of solidarity. During this period, no actors or writers are actively producing new content. However, two major films, namely Barbie and Oppenheimer, are set to be released on July 21st. Despite this, both unions have clarified that attending the movies or streaming content on Netflix would not be considered as crossing the symbolic picket line.
The notion of a virtual consumer boycott is an innovative concept that SAG-AFTRA or WGA could potentially employ if they desire such influence. However, considering the vast amount of content available on networks and streaming platforms, a consumer boycott would probably be considered a final option if a resolution is not reached promptly.
No matter the eventual outcome of this strike, those involved are optimistic that it will serve as a lesson for studios and executives, prompting them to be more thoughtful about their approach and communication. The strikers believe that the studios’ actions and lack of empathy have turned what started as a Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike into a joint 2-union strike, causing significant disruptions to projects and incurring substantial financial losses.
Disney CEO Bob Iger has expressed skepticism about the unions’ expectations, deeming them unrealistic. Studio executives find themselves in a challenging public relations situation, with their image being portrayed negatively, almost like villains. It remains uncertain whether this portrayal will motivate them to adjust their tone and behavior going forward.