I’m not a member of SAG-AFTRA, but I support the strike fully. This is not about pretty people wanting more money. This is about the collapse of livelihoods for more than 160,000 artists — many of whom you have never heard of. Click-up economics — 300+ million people clicking all their money up on every phone and screen in the country, to the top tier of society — has turned the entertainment industry upside down. What was once just a circus is now a full-on lottery for creators and artists of all kinds — and a windfall for top execs and the corporations they head.
We’re all in this together. That’s what art and business are: collaborative. And the Writers Guild and SAG-AFTRA are saying, “No, we want a healthy industry where everyone shares in the successes they create.” There is no scenario where it is acceptable that execs go home with hundreds of millions of dollars while artists can’t pay rent. Plainly put, it is bullshit. Just more of the bullshit that continues to fester in a country that has not reckoned with the idea that we are one political and cultural body — left to right and, most importantly, top to bottom.
When “Please Unsubscribe, Thanks!” comes out on August 8, I hope every single actor, writer, and artist reads it. Yeah, I’m promoting shamelessly. Too bad. It is time for all of us to unsubscribe from the underlying ideas and beliefs that make any of this top-heavy nonsense possible across the entire society. We can’t keep being mesmerized by the next shiny object. We have to get to the root of the issues, debate them, interrogate the ideas and notions from which all this comes.
Unions are necessary to amalgamate power and balance the scales so workers can sit at the table — confidently and steel-spined — with corporations. Union membership peaked in the US in 1954, when nearly 35 percent of Americans were represented by a union. In 1979, 21 million people were union members. Now? Just over 11 percent of Americans belong to a labor union. We have a long way to go to build back the strength of consolidated worker power.
Sending my love and support to all the actors with whom I have had the distinct pleasure to work with, direct, and befriend. Do not back down. Your work, your training, your sweat, your patience, and your risk give you every right in the world to be loud.
Julio Vincent Gambuto is the author of Please Unsubscribe, Thanks! — now available for pre-order, from Avid Reader Press at Simon & Schuster. New York Times bestselling author and modern sage Oliver Burkeman calls the book, “Simultaneously hilarious and deadly serious.” Coming to bookstores everywhere August 8. JVG is the writer and director of Silver Fox, a new short film coming to film festivals this fall from The New Yorker. Here on Medium, JVG is the author of the essay, Prepare for the Ultimate Gaslighting, which started a worldwide conversation, circling the globe to 21 million readers in 98 countries. He is a writer and moviemaker. He lives in New York City. Learn more at www.juliovincent.com.