I love seeing you woke jackasses out of work. Woooo! Good luck...haha.
I didn't mean that. I'd like to personally apologize to Robert Deniro.
Striking Hollywood Actors Have Lost the Plot
They assume the public is on their side against the studios. Most people have other things to worry about.
By Matthew Hennessey, WSJ
July 27, 2023 2:12 pm ET
That’s my message to the Hollywood writers and actors who are on strike. You assume Americans are on your side because we love the shows you create and the characters you play. The faceless, fat-cat studio heads seem like natural villains. But if you think that means we’re rooting for you, you’re mistaken. Nobody cares.
For one thing, people are busy. We have our own business to attend to. Most of us find time to fit in a bit of electronic entertainment at the margins of our daily doings. Somebody recommends a movie or TV show and maybe we take a chance on it—that is, if we get the dishes done and the kids don’t need extra help with their homework.
If we get hooked on a series, maybe we recommend it to someone else. Maybe not. Despite what your agent says, most of us can live quite happily without seeing your pretty face every night.
It’s Shark Week, after all. We have options.
But here’s the main thing: Your cause isn’t as righteous as you think it is. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez may enjoy playacting as Norma Rae on the picket line, but don’t get carried away by the radical drama of it all. Actors aren’t saints. Writers don’t wear halos. You’re looking to “secure the bag” just like the producers on the other side of the negotiating table. Let’s not pretend this is the Dust Bowl and that Fran Drescher is Ma Joad.
Yes, you say you are fighting for the little guy—for the background player whose image and likeness gets computerized and copied by artificial intelligence without remuneration. But the Writers Guild and SAG-Aftra are trade unions. Their primary function is to force studios to hire their members and only their members. I suppose some lucky thespian who books a part with a few lines is the little guy compared with Disney and Warner Bros. But the actor slinging drinks, waiting tables and wondering how he’ll ever get a union card is an even littler guy. Full disclosure: That was once me.
The striking unions say they seek “fairness” but an unavoidable show-business reality is that the number of jobs is limited and the supply of talent is limitless. Somebody’s always willing to step in and play the part. This is the dynamic through which the producers acquire their power. It isn’t fair, but such is life. Producers frequently make bets that don’t pay off. Writers and actors don’t lose money when a picture flops yet they want in on the upside. How is that fair?
The streaming era has complicated many contracts and business arrangements that were once straightforward. Among the concerns of those on strike is the matter of residuals—money paid to performers and writers for reruns of their movies and shows. Personally, I would like to earn a residual payment every time someone reads one of my articles. That sounds fair to me.
I could grab a bullhorn and shout about it down by the newsstand, but would anyone join me? Probably not. Nobody cares.
Mr. Hennessey is the Journal’s deputy editorial features editor and a former actor.