Expert: Hollywood actors go on strike after SAG-AFTRA talks collapse

Published: 25 July 2023

The union representing more than 150,000 television and movie actors is on strike, joining screenwriters who walked out in May to create Hollywood’s first industrywide shutdown in 63 years. (New York Times)

Here is an expert from McGill University who can comment on this topic:

Barry Eidlin, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology

“Hollywood actors and writers are on strike at the same time for the first time since 1960. Back then, the key issue was how they would be fairly compensated for work in the new medium of television. Today, the issue is how to be fairly compensated in the world of streaming. Studios are reporting billions in profits, but current payment structures mean that many actors and writers aren’t getting a share of that revenue. Meanwhile, looming over contract negotiations is the threat of AI, which risks not only replacing actors, writers, and the many other professionals who support those workers (costume designers, makeup artists, set designers, etc.), but forcing them to cede control over their creative work and even their own likeness. The result is an existential battle for what the future of cultural production will look like in the U.S. and beyond. This is leading workers across Hollywood to make common cause with each other, and even forge alliances with unions outside of Hollywood. There is a sense of everyone being in this fight together that was not present in previous contract negotiations and strikes."

Barry Eidlin is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology. As a comparative historical sociologist, his research explores the changing relationship between social mobilization, political processes, and ideology in advanced capitalist democracies.

barry.eidlin [at] (English, French)

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