Hundreds of SAG/AFTRA and WGA members, along with their supporters, gathered outside Netflix studios on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood to protest and picket. The strike, which began last week, involves approximately 160,000 actors from the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the Writers Guild of America (WGA).
The main bones of contention for the striking members are the lack of residuals from streaming services and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to perpetually exploit their likenesses without additional compensation.
One issue that has frustrated the picketers is the absence of A-list actors on the front lines. Some members expressed disappointment at not seeing prominent actors, like Ben Affleck and Brie Larson, actively participating in the strike.
George Clooney and Matt Damon showed solidarity with the striking members, but for those on the picket line, statements from celebrities alone are not enough. They are urging their fellow actors to physically join the strike and demonstrate their commitment to the cause.
Despite the absence of certain high-profile actors, the members of SAG and WGA are feeling energized by the unity between the two unions, a rare occurrence since 1960. They believe that the strike is leading to a powerful bond that will strengthen their position in negotiations with studio executives.
Many picketers view the strike as a significant moment in the American labor movement, symbolizing a shift in the fight for workers' rights. Some feel that it may take a long time to achieve their goals, but they are willing to endure a prolonged strike to bring about change.
Filmmaker John Weiner sees the strike as an opportunity for a workers' revolution, suggesting that the entire country could benefit from such a movement. The picketers are determined to challenge the dominance and greed of studio executives, whom they refer to as “brilliant narcissists.”
Actor Toby Huss shares similar concerns, believing that AI and the changing industry landscape pose existential threats to both writers and actors. He worries that if nothing is done now, the industry will continue to marginalize writers and actors, potentially jeopardizing the viability of these professions in the future.
The striking members are resolute in their cause, fully aware of the challenges ahead. They are committed to fighting for fair compensation, recognition of their work, and protection against the growing influence of technology on the entertainment industry.