The union says lay down your ring lights or risk being labelled a scab
Last week, Hollywood effectively ground to a standstill after actors joined screenwriters in the biggest industry strike since the 1960s. Their instructions, issued by the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (aka SAG-AFTRA) are clear: until they see increases in base pay and residuals, and guarantees that their work will not be replaced by AI, they cannot appear in films, or promote films that are already finished.
For others, though, responsibilities during the strike aren’t quite so clear. Take influencers, for example. While they’re not directly tied to Hollywood the way actors and screenwriters are, many agree that they should take action to support those striking. Below is everything you need to know.
WHAT DO INFLUENCERS HAVE TO DO WITH THE STRIKE?
To put it simply, influencers are expected to express solidarity with the ongoing strike, or risk landing on SAG-AFTRA’s blacklist, which could lead them to lose out on opportunities in the future. They also won’t be allowed to join the union further down the line.
How can they show their support? Well, influencers are often paid by studios to promote films and TV series, and to whip up attention on social media (see: endless conversations about Barbenheimer over the course of the last month). The union says this has to stop while the strike is on.
WHO DOES THIS AFFECT?
Since 2021, influencers have been able to join SAG-AFTRA thanks to its “Influencer Agreement”. Obviously, existing members will be required to lay down their ring lights. Even those that aren’t a part of Hollywood’s biggest union, though, are encouraged to refrain from posting promotional material about new films and TV shows.
WHAT ARE SAG-AFTRA’S GUIDELINES FOR INFLUENCERS?
In an FAQ detailing how digital content creators should support the strike, SAG-AFTRA says that they’re still fine to pursue brand partnerships. When it comes to promotions of screenings, though: “Influencers should not accept any new work for promotion of struck companies or their content.”
That being said, influencers are allowed to fulfil any work obligations that they’ve already agreed upon. This doesn’t include appearing at conferences, such as Comic-Con, or other events promoting struck work, like appearances, panels, or fan meet and greets.
INFLUENCERS ARE BEING CALLED OUT AS SCABS FOR CROSSING PICKET LINES
Confusion about the specifics of SAG-AFTRA’s guidelines – especially in the overwhelmingly non-union influencer industry – has led to a number of controversies since the start of the strike. Some have reported being “attacked” online and being called a scab (a term used for strike-breakers) after continuing to promote content made by struck companies.
Much of the controversy revolves around a film-based content creator called Juju Green, who has more than three million followers on TikTok. After Green suggested he wasn’t covered by SAG-AFTRA’s guidelines, as a non-union influencer – and shared a now-deleted, “tone deaf” skit about continuing to post – many condemned his lack of solidarity. Green has since apologised and clarified that he stands by the strike, while criticising members of the union for punishing influencers “instead of truly educating [them] through this new challenging time”.
Not going to lie, instead of truly educating us through this new challenging time in an effort to help the strike, we’re getting conflicting reports and punished online for it. I was called a liar, a scab, and attacked for FOLLOWING SAG Guidelines and Contracts pic.twitter.com/sCTSzYu5r6— Ju Ju! (@Straw_Hat_Goofy) July 16, 2023