Americans Apathetic About Woes Of Striking Writers And Actors

As of Friday, 123 days had passed since the Hollywood writers’ strike began on May 2, and 49 days since the actors joined them on July 14, and all you hear are crickets.

American life goes on as usual, with or without new TV shows, of which there are plenty already.

I’m not sure whether gaining the support of the general public is a goal of the striking writers’ and actors’ unions -- the Writers Guild of America and Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. But if it is a goal, then this has not happened. 

One way to judge the level of public concern: There has not been a peep out of Congress with any lawmakers in high dudgeon about the plight of Hollywood writers and actors and the effect their strike is having on their constituents.



The strikers may have some very legitimate grievances and concerns -- among them, their fear that the studios will embrace AI as a means of encroaching on the work they do.

These concerns are important to the strikers, but to the general public, not so much -- if at all.

One reason is that the strike has no effect on their lives. These unions are not the kinds of labor organizations capable of bringing vast industries to a standstill or generating sympathy.

For example, coal miners’ strikes have interest the federal government because coal shortages affect millions. 

Plus, it is easy to sympathize with coal miners because of the difficult, dirty work they do. Who doesn’t want to see their burdens eased?

But screenwriters and actors in TV and movies? Even if the perception is inaccurate, the average person perceives those who work in Hollywood as already better compensated than they are.

This is especially true when they see the occasional movie star walking a picket line, or a personality such as Fran Drescher, current president of SAG, making a speech railing against the unfairness of the studios. 

People look at someone like her and think: What is she complaining about? She probably made out pretty well from “The Nanny,” didn’t she?

In terms of public perception, the writers’ and actors’ strike is like the occasional strikes by professional sports unions such as the Major League Baseball Players Association (last went on strike in 1994-95, locked out by owners 2021-22) and the National Hockey League Players Association (last strike 2012-13).

These labor actions get little sympathy because to most people, they pit rich people against other rich people in a battle over who gets richer. And in the end, ticket prices go up.

Maybe the same result will spring from the Hollywood strikes too. Who’s going to pay if the studios are forced to increase compensation for Hollywood writers and actors? 

The same people who subscribe to streaming services, and buy tickets to movies, and can no longer afford to go to a baseball game.

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