Serious PR problems are undermining the striking members of the commercial Screen Actors Guild.
Serious PR problems are undermining the striking members of the
commercial Screen Actors Guild.
When I think of strikes, I think of coal miners with hard, weathered
faces. Often they hold children in their arms on the picket line -
which, in terms of eliciting widespread support for their cause, is
You see, strikers must look like they have difficult, thankless work
that pays less than it should. The effective picketer should make us
think, ’Thank God I don’t have that job. Damn glad someone’s doing it,
though.’ Janitors had that going for them during their recent Los
Actors do not.
To begin with, the word ’strike’ is associated with the word ’labor.’
Which is associated with lifting heavy objects, tool belts or other
things that result in the buildup of grime (politics excepted). ’Labor’
is not associated with stepping out of an air-conditioned trailer to
utter, ’Thanks to very pricey medication, my headache is gone and I can
resume the exciting, rewarding life you wish you had.’
Also, a strike must cause serious public inconvenience. Again, like the
janitors’ strike, or a work stoppage by bus drivers, trash haulers,
short-order cooks or, in Hollywood, hair colorists. Little distress
would result from fewer TV commercials being made, or if they were made
using animation, graphics or stick drawings instead of human actors.
I like human actors. I work closely with them and admire their energy,
courage in revealing raw emotion and ability to maintain concentration
during 17-hour days. Of course, as an absent-minded daydreamer, I’m awed
by people who can remember what they had for dinner and what day it
Still, I feel little sympathy for people dissatisfied with well-paying
gigs that do not involve saving lives, placing their own lives or health
in danger or benefiting society in a larger sense than telling us in
30-second spots that ’our stock portfolio might not be earning all it
could.’ This includes athletes, CEOs and those millionaires selling
oranges at major intersections.
SAG wants residuals each time a member’s ad airs, which sets a dangerous
precedent. What if authors demand residuals when someone reads their
books at the library? Or if my friends expect repayment every time I
borrow money from them?
The guild’s PR department is in for an uphill battle. If the strike
persists, it will not help their cause if unemployed members hold signs
reading, ’Will plug for food.’ Or if advertisers begin plucking pitchmen
off the street, and you turn on the set to hear ’I’m not an actor, but I
play one on TV.’