Doing your job or expressing your fandom isn't scabbing, and we're missing the point if we treat it like it is
It ridiculous to suggest engaging with film/program on critical level is crossing line. Central to strike is idea that work that writers and actors do is valuable and need to be treated as such. And me have never seen review whose thrust was, "me not paid much attention to acting or script in this movie, but man, those studio executives!!!"
Beyond that, while criticism not cold, objective journalism, it is journalism, and worst possible thing journalist can be asked to do is pretend something not exist like Mr. Snuffalupagus. It like saying covering Putin's invasion of Ukraine is supporting Putin. Or worse, that appreciating bravery of Ukranian people in face of invasion is somehow supporting Putin.
Me think it very, very easy to talk about how good Severance is and how much we anticipate next season while making it perfectly clear we want those writers and actors to be paid and treated well because they created something remarkable. That not pro-studio in any way. Until day comes when Episodic Medium post article praising AI as screenwriting tool and CGI ghouls as actors, me not sure how anyone could see anything on this site as crossing picket line.
I dunno--I've been following this conversation with a little bit of confusion. It never occurred to me that the guidance was applied to those outside of the SAG-AFTRA influencer agreement. And that if you wanted to get in under that agreement at some point you had to play ball. Otherwise, do what you want. But, as someone who works in politics, I can't say I'm shocked the online discourse has blown this up. The lack of media literacy on the internet / real life is pretty wild and I'm not surprised that folks online haven't drawn the line between a PR campaign and journalism.
I am curious how much of this permeates beyond one small corner of the internet. My parents (who I routinely use as a gut check on what's breaking through in political news) were up for the weekend and knew the strike was happening and even the AI and residual piece of it. However, the influencer side of things wasn't even on their radar as a thing people were worried about.
Appreciated this thoughtful essay, Myles. Agreed on all points. Also, love the FSP wing of NWU. As another "UAW Local 1981" member, I think they're doing really great stuff.
I saw an actor on Threads say that while the union organizations can't say it, he thinks consumers should cancel streaming services, stop watching. I just think that is very shortsighted and silly. We watch to support actors and writers! Now some may cancel services because they have nothing to watch. That's fine. But a boycott is a very, very bad idea.
Joe Adalia of Vulture made some good points in his Buffering newsletter. He's talking about the broadcast networks, but it could be about all scripted TV if everyone just stopped watching:
"[I]f things aren’t settled until September or October — as at least one trade story almost gleefully predicted this week (no, I won’t link to it) — odds are we won’t have normal network TV schedules until January or February 2024. Given broadcast shows have almost all been in reruns since mid-May, that would mean the networks could go eight or nine months without their biggest primetime hits. Yes, the NFL will still bring in lots of viewers and ad revenue this fall, but the dwindling-yet-still-sizable mass of viewers who still make network shows a habit will have much less reason to check out the Big Four on a regular basis. Maybe execs think those viewers will come running back once a strike gets settled and shows return, but while many surely will, a not insignificant portion might just … never return. As bad as same-day TV ratings are now, they could look a lot worse after a six- or seven-month strike."
Habits matter. If people just stop watching movies and TV or stop talking about them (urging their friends or readers of newspapers, etc. to watch), the entire enterprise might become diminished. Maybe people just switch to reality TV or (gasp) read books. But if you care about writers and actors and creative people, you don't abandon the art. And as I said in another comment section, the Harper Collins Union went on strike and never told readers to stop buying books. Because that would be silly and self defeating!
This very much is talking about of both sides of their mouth. When they are not striking, they want fans to "be cool" and not act like they have a say or ownership in the properties, but when the strike hits they want to pretend that fandom is an arm of the industry.
I get why those who are, or wish to become, members should have rules to follow. I get asking people to be vocal about how the system has not been updated for technological advancements (I would love to do a guest piece on how music rights abuse threaten our cultural legacy) but to ask a 16 yo from Peoria to not dress up as Yennefer is a bridge too far.
And to state that critics should not discuss work is absurd
Thank you kindly for a post on this. I'm fully in support of the unions, but I hadn't really heard about or considered the fandom, critical, or content creator angles, so that's something for me to think about for a while.
Thanks for writing this! I completely agree, and all this reaction is bizarre given that the unions haven't called for a general boycott. I've even had friends say I should cancel my streaming services, but my response is that unions decide whether a boycott is an effective tactic, and it's up to them to call for one. Most of the time they don't, because I think they're aware that boycotts are rarely effective and can actually backfire by hurting the entire industry in the long-term. This is a labor strike, and doesn't apply to consumers, writers, influencers, media, podcasters, etc, and nobody should be shamed for doing their job when they're not even part of the union.
The idea that journalists should not cover work produced by struck companies seems to be counter to everything they're telling consumers: don't cancel subscriptions, watch the shows created by our artists, remind the studios of the value of our storytelling contribution. Asking prospective future union members to hold the line? Of course. Asking a TikToker not to share how great "Barbie" was? That makes no sense.