As we saw over the weekend, some SAG-AFTRA members did not heed the guideline about dressing as characters from struck work for the spookiest Halloween (still so disappointed in Glen Powell).
Megan Fox actually went as far as tagging SAG-AFTRA in an Insta post of her Kill Bill look.
You know what? I hope someone at SAG is logging all this, and I hope they fine everyone who violated the guideline. They asked people not to do it, they clarified it doesn’t apply to kids/family members, and if guild members STILL insisted on dressing as characters from struck work—fine their asses and put that money into the strike support fund. I’ve been held accountable for a helluva lot less at work, and this is, at the end of the day, a work situation. Show your work, f-cking show up for your peers who don’t have Top Gun residuals or Netflix money, GLEN.
Anyway, negotiations between SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP were on break yesterday after meeting all spooky weekend. They’re back at it today, and SAG lead negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland—have we talked about how great his name is?—was on the picket line yesterday and spoke to Variety about the state of the negotiation. “As long as we keep talking as long as we’re moving things forward, that is what needs to be happening. […] There has been progress and that’s the source of my continued cautious optimism,” he said to the outlet.
“Cautiously optimistic” is what I keep hearing, with some guild members thinking that with negotiations ongoing all month, they must be nearing a deal. Crabtree-Ireland, though, is still emphasizing there isn’t a consensus on the use of AI. The studios now propose to limit the use of “digital doubles” within franchises—as opposed to a free-for-all wherein studios could use a single digital scan of an actor ad infinitum—but SAG wants to limit the use to one-and-done scenarios. The studios legit want to replace human labor in film, huh? They just really want the ability to plug and play a person’s likeness at will. The tech isn’t that good! It would be one thing if we were talking about a seamless transition, but we are not. None of this tech is as good as anyone wants it to be—de-aging is always super noticeable, too.
But apparently, the limits of the actual tech won’t stop studios from wanting to use it as much as possible to, unquestionably, lower the amount of money they have to pay people to make movies and TV shows. Even if they’re limited to the bounds of a franchise, still, next time Marvel wants to have the Hulk show up in something, they can just shove Wonky Computer Hulk into the scene and, what? Not pay Mark Ruffalo? Do you get residuals on AI use? This is exactly what they’re negotiating right now!
The SAG-AFTRA leadership is right to keep bargaining until they put reasonable guardrails around the use of AI. It’s not even an entertainment industry problem—AI is going to impact many industries in the coming years. It’s already impacting some, a co-worker of mine just had to pitch to save her own job from f-cking ChatGPT, which is not capable, at this time, of fully replacing human labor. We have to measure the implementation of AI and machine learning against the impact to human livelihoods in all industries, because we’re simply not ready for mass displacement of a human workforce.
Two hundred years ago, industrialization reduced the need for workers on farms, and people moved to cities in droves and got factory jobs. Over the last hundred years, as automation has reduced the size of the factory workforce, college and resulting white-collar jobs became the next major employment sector. But now algorithms are coming for white-collar jobs. And what replaces them? In a dream world, UBI and creative industry. But we don’t live in a dream world, because studio executives are already trying to turn creative industry over to algorithms. It will take concentrated collective action in the coming years to figure out how to integrate these technologies with human labor in a way that doesn’t destroy livelihoods overnight. The actors—and writers—are just at the forefront of the fight.
Also attached - Jessica Lange, Zachary Quinto and Gina Gershon at the SAG-AFTRA picket line yesterday in Downtown, Manhattan.