As the real world seems to increasingly resemble stories you used to only find on the big screen, Hollywood seems to become less and less relevant.
The 2024 election cycle, culture wars, and an increasingly perilous situation playing out overseas cover everything from drama to comedy to horror tales, many without happy endings.
Donald Trump and Joe Biden seem more like the hero or villain protagonists (depending on which side of the aisle you sit).
More people are tuning into nightly “news” programs and social media feeds for their entertainment rather than tuning into their favorite sitcom.
However, the latest strikes to come out of Tinseltown are not as irrelevant as people may believe.
Actors followed in writers’ footsteps last week, declaring a strike at midnight on Friday, July 14, after negotiations between their union and motion picture studios collapsed.
Actors – They’re Just Like Us
While it’s easy for many people to roll their eyes at a bunch of Hollywood wannabees whining about equal pay and rights, it’s helpful to remember that a majority of actors are not the stars you see on the big screen making millions of dollars a movie or with huge contracts that provide for mansions in Malibu and homes across the globe.
Many, if not most, are busting their, you know what working any job they can do to achieve a fulfilling career and survive in this God-forsaken town.
Mehdi Barakchian is one of those “middle-class actors” and “someone maybe you don’t recognize my face immediately, but you’ve seen me around on television.” Actors (and writers) like him are “the majority of us who are in the union. A small percent are the folks you recognize as the A-listers.”
The reality of these actors sounds an awful lot like many other people in America right now.
“It used to be such that you could make a living – I’m not talking about red carpets and champagne – I mean just a standard American living by working on television as a middle-class actor, as someone who shows up as a guest star or a recurring role … but the reality is we can no longer make a living doing that.”
After living in Los Angeles for twenty years and being close enough to the entertainment scene to meet some true “deplorables,” I have a healthy disdain for the business. It can be cunning, ruthless, superficial, and yes, sometimes downright evil.
However, the industry, as it’s known, is comprised of some wonderful, if not sometimes misguided, individuals just like Mehdi and and they are the ones getting harmed.
The Hollywood strike is not important because anyone cares about the upper echelons of the entertainment business. It’s important because, as Fran Drescher, the President of SAG-AFTRA, the biggest union in the entertainment industry that represents about 160,000 not only actors but also announcers, broadcast journalists, dancers, program hosts, stunt performers, voiceover artists, and the like, stated:
“What’s happening to us is happening across all fields of labor. By means of when employers make Wall Street and greed their priority and they forget about the essential contributors that make the machine run. We have a problem.”
The Nanny isn’t wrong.
From Hollywood to Washington, D.C.
Replace the word “employers” with “the government,” the words “Wall Street” with “power,” and the words “essential contributors” with voters, and you’ve got what’s become known as “the swamp” in Washington, D.C.
Like in almost every sector of America, and around the world, traditional institutions and norms are collapsing.
What is most ironic is those who pull the strings in Hollywood – the wealthy actors, producers, writers, and some may argue even other political and cultural agents – don’t seem to comprehend how much they contribute to this collapse.
They convene at their grand award shows and congratulate themselves and climb on stage with righteous indignation to give their political speeches about the environment and equality, yet fail to see how these social movements contribute to the very demise of the political order that has upheld this country for almost 250 years.
They are simply parrots of the elite class that fly to Davos on their private jets and sit in World Economic Forum meetings to develop a new world order. They convene to discuss the U.N.’s new “Summit of the Future.” They belong to the same class of hypocrites of the exclusive intellectuals and “experts” club that think that everyone except for themselves should make sacrifices to achieve stability, peace, and prosperity.
Drescher expressed her irritation for this class of people when she proclaimed:
“We are being victimized by a very greedy entity. I am shocked by the way the people we have been in business with are treating us. I cannot believe it, quite frankly, how far apart we are on so many things. How they plead poverty that they’re losing money left and right when giving hundreds and millions of dollars to their CEO’s. It is disgusting. Shame on them.”
Who’s Really to Blame?
She continued to express the frustration of many right now.
“The entire business model has been changed by streaming, digital, AI. If we don’t stand tall right now, we are all going to be in trouble. We are all going to be in jeopardy of being replaced by machines and big business who cares more about Wall Street than you and your family. Most of Americans don’t have $500 in an emergency.”
Even more ironic: her grievances are the cries of many who voted for Donald Trump in 2016, the candidate who I can all but guarantee most members of SAG-AFTRA did not vote for.
If nothing else, the actor and writers’ strike exemplifies the populist sentiment that seems to be sweeping both the right and the left and one that Drescher summed up in three sentences:
“You people are crazy! What are you doing?!? Why are you doing this!?!”
If people could realize that the true battle lines are not across party lines, but between the elite establishment and those they look down upon, maybe we could come together to resist their agenda.
Jennifer Galardi is the politics and culture editor and opinion writer for 19FortyFive.com. She has a Master’s in Public Policy from Pepperdine University and produces and hosts the podcast Connection with conversations that address health, culture, politics, and policy. In a previous life, she wrote for publications in the health, fitness, and nutrition space. In addition, her pieces have been published in the Epoch Times and Pepperdine Policy Review. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter.