The SAG-AFTRA, or Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, is a huge organization that represents many industry-related names, starting with actors, journalists, TV personalities, and many more. It is known to represent lakhs of people who are part of the industry. We first heard about issues in the month of May, when the screenwriters decided to walk out of the sets and go on strike against the studios. On May 13, several other members of the screen actors guild, including actors, decided to go on strike with the writers.
The What and Why
The actors decided to go on strike after the failure of several negotiation attempts. Despite the discussions and negotiations, WGA and Hollywood Studios couldn’t find common ground. The alliance between the motion pictures and the television producers, popularly known as the AMPTP has been a common source of grievance for both the actors and the screenwriters. At the heart of the problem is artificial intelligence, and the associated greed of the studios that were together invalidating and exploiting the work of these artists. With time, AI has taken over a lot of jobs, and among the several jobs, writing has been the easiest to replace. When it seemed like artificial intelligence will completely take over the jobs of writers, while authority figures stood watching, the writers decided to protest, and their rebellion has been creating strong waves.
The increased usage of artificial intelligence has been tampering with the job security of artists, while also affecting their well-deserved earnings and profit from the work. And this in particular was the bone of contention. Thanks to artificial intelligence and the callousness of the studios, the efforts and work of the artists were put on a back burner. In addition to this, the lack of financial security during inflation also put the studios in a negative light. And to make matters worse, the writers weren’t receiving any royalty payments from OTT platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney or any others. The demands of the writers were simple and just. They wanted strict barriers against artificial intelligence using their previous work for any future series or movie.
The Rebellion Gains Momentum
The strike, as mentioned above, not only included top writers but several top actors as well. Actors walked out of promotions and premieres as a step to support the strike against the Hollywood studios. Barbie and Oppenheimer movies are at the top of their game right now. Barbenheimer has been trending on social media, and everybody is eagerly waiting for the release of both movies on July 21st.
In between this, the entire cast of Oppenheimer walked out of their premiere in London on the day the strike was announced to show their support for it. This included Christopher Nolan, Florence Pugh, Emily Blunt, and Matt Damon as well. The fact was established that they all demanded residual or royalty payments because not all actors are actors for 12 months a year. During the premiere of Barbie, when Margot Robbie was asked about the strike, she said she definitely supports it too.
The Studios’ Response
The Hollywood studios reacted very diplomatically to this current situation. They first confirmed that they have higher margins on pensions and healthcare. They also said that the use of Artificial intelligence can be great for the industry. They finally shared that the pandemic has caused several losses to the studios, and the current financial situation has not been good for them either. The pandemic forced people into homes, and now the viewers want to be in a more comfortable space. They all prefer sitting at home and watching television or shows and movies on OTT platforms to actually going to the theatre. This has resulted in the studios not having a lot of profit as well.
Further, in a press statement, they said that a strike was not the outcome they had hoped for because they could not operate without the performers that brought TV shows and films to life. They also said that the union has regrettably chosen a path that will lead to financial hardship for countless thousands of people who depend on the industry.
When Will the Strike End
There are no definite answers to this. Looking at the manner in which the strike has spun out, it seems like they are pretty sure-footed about their demands, and they will step back only when these demands are fulfilled. Currently, as per sources, the situation between the writers and studios is not cordial at all, but the writers have said that they are willing to talk normally and find a middle ground.