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A Double Strike?

Like most people in the entertainment business, or watching it, I woke up to articles like this one about the possible if not likely countdown to a Screen Actors Guild strike.

The SAG contract was to expire June 30th, but they pushed it back to expire July 12th.

Come the morning of July 13th (Thursday), this means both the writers and actors could be on strike.

The sticking point for both unions is A.I., which looms as an existential threat. The technology has become so powerful that of course the studios are salivating to replace those pesky, expensive human beings with cheap A.I. (better called “plagiarism software”).

The new season of Black Mirror brought it to chilling (if satirical) life with “Joan Is Awful.”

The writers and actors (and all talent) know it and see this as their line in the sand.

I remember reading about a historical parallel: the invention of recorded music (the phonograph) and how musicians saw it as a threat against their livelihood.

Think about it: before records, the only way to hear musical performances—was live!

So naturally, the invention of a device that could capture those sounds and play them back on demand threatened to decimate careers and lifestyles—and the musicians would go to extreme lengths to protect themselves, because why wouldn’t they?

I can’t find a good source online for the early battles (admittedly I am not looking very hard), but there was a multiyear AFM (musicians union) strike during World War II over record royalties.

Sad to say, what inevitably happens during strikes is that even when the unions win concessions, the overall damage during the shutdown pushes things in the directions the studios want.

You just can’t stop evolution.

I think if I had to make a guess this morning, I would expect SAG to strike. I think both sides will conclude that they would rather inflict pain on the other side, and see if they can get better terms in a few weeks to a few months.

And here we are.

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