Folks, you know me. While I’m not above wandering into a bit of controversy, I do put a great, great, great deal of effort into keeping as much controversy away from these pages. I think that there are bloggers and vloggers who – quite frankly – exist to either ‘stir the pot’ or ‘light a fire’ for the sake of both building an audience as well as seeking out clicks, Tweets, and Retweets. There’s nothing wrong with that – to a degree – and I have a lot of respect for those who can do it and still maintain a modicum of decency about contentious subject matter. That ain’t always easy to do. One risks one’s reputation – both with the affected and the afflicted – and I’m perfectly okay sitting most fights out and watching from the cheap seats.
Still … when I’m asked and asked enough, then I sometimes will step out into the fray, as is the case this morning as I received my third request to say something about the – ahem – actor’s strike.
Look. Anyone who’s ever been a part of a union? They have the right to strike. No, it isn’t like I read the other day – it isn’t a “God-given right” mostly because I think that’s a real bastardization of what the phrase “God-given” means – but it’s probably the single greatest and best mechanism for a great deal within that industry to be heard. It’s sad that it might get to that point – having to go on strike, having to take that hit to one’s workload and income – but if that’s the consensus from the group, then who I am to tell them not to do it? Like anything in life, striking will come with a whole slew of unintended consequences – for the actors, for the studios, and for the audiences – but at the end of the day it is what it is.
I will agree that perhaps some of the actors might wanna sit out the whole ‘making-of’ speeches. I understand (again) that it’s a right they can exercise, but – speaking only as a completely uninvolved nugget of joy that I am – I think there’s something most definitely off-putting when, say, a man whose reported net worth is $50 million preaching that he’s as mad as hell and he’s not gonna take it any more (pun intended, for those of you who get it). In fact, I’d say that it’s even sillier to have a talent whose net worth is almost a half billion getting up to malign the industry, its leaders, and their coffers. Can they do it? Sure! Must they do it? Maybe. Should they do it? Well … I’m inclined to tell a person who has built a nest egg that could fund a small town to maybe sit this one out. Picket? Sure! Preach? Erm …
I guess that depends on what message you want to send to anyone watching.
Having an industry juggernaut speak out against the evils of capitalism – the same person who has built a considerable fortune out of embracing the benefits of said evil capitalism – is incredibly hypocritical. Regular folks – when we see this – do tend to grow a bit disenfranchised with all of you – not just the marquee talent – and this is where one opens the door to those unintended consequences I mentioned above. It’s a fine line – one that should be kept in mind – but, again, to each his own.
I think what concerns me more – if I’m being perfectly honest – is the message that the actors and actresses are sending by striking at this particular time in history. It’s something that plagued baseball – America’s pastime – when they opted to strike a number of years back; and there are those who juggle numbers that’ll tell you nearly a decade or two later that industry still hasn’t quite recovered. Similarly, COVID decimated theaters and the entertainment business; and – now on the cusp of a very modest recovery – a strike by both the writers and the actors is going to have an increasingly detrimental impact on that economy as well. Who knows? I’ve read some suggestions that a protracted strike might force a national chain to, ultimately, shut down; and this’ll further reduce the outlets available to see both writers and actors gainfully working … but that doesn’t seem to matter to anyone.
Though I’m no big proponent of the – cough cough – curious political views of actor Mark Ruffalo, I do think he had a very good suggestion the other day.
From what I read – if this is incorrect, then sue me – he offered the idea that it would be grand for talent to band together and start a kinda/sorta limited talent-funded avenue for some of the projects they’d like to see accomplished. Given the number of outlets hungry for new material – both network channels and streaming platforms – I’d applaud such a campaign. While I’m not a huge fan of crowdfunding, even I’ll concede it’s a fabulous idea that would most likely fuel some good alternatives, especially given the fact that most major studios seem to have wholly given up on smaller, more intimate productions. If nothing else, it might certainly demonstrate to those studio executives that talent isn’t beholden to them for everything; and the resulting renaissance might be a boon for some fabulous creativity. Granted, there’d be a good deal of risk associated, as well, but that’s fundamentally no different than those of us who get up each morning and pursue the great American Dream experience each and every day. The benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.
So … I’ll ask forgiveness to those who might be offended by these few humble words. As I said in the opening, I usually don’t wade into such turbulent waters, but because I’d been asked a few times I felt I had a responsibility as a low-rent pundit to put up or shut up. I realize it may not have the nuance the most learned amongst us possess, but – as I said – it is what it is. Striking brings with it an incredible gamble, and here’s hoping whatever industry survives from all this chaos can still keep all of you gainfully employed.
I suspect it won’t. But that’s just me.