Wondering if it’s still ok for you to watch the streaming platforms the writers and actors are striking against? We’ve got the answer!
We recently posted about the impact of the historic joint WGA (writers) and SAG-AFTRA (actors) strike that has shut down Hollywood. Based on some questions we received and that we have seen brought up on social platforms, we wanted to take the time to expound on the question of how entertainment consumers can show solidarity with the strikers.
Specifically, we wanted to help you understand whether or not you should consider cutting ties with your streaming platforms based on the problems writers and actors are experiencing as a result of this game-changing new distribution model.
The short answer is, no, you don’t need to stop streaming to support the strikers. Streaming is not considered to be crossing a digital picket line.
Neither union has called for any type of boycott. In fact, most members would prefer that you keep watching the shows and movies they’ve worked so hard on.
Author and screenwriter Neil Gaiman (The Sandman) is advising everyone to refrain from boycotting streaming platforms for the time being.
When recently asked if people should start boycotting Netflix and the like in an effort to support the strike, Gaiman said that he doesn’t recommend it unless the WGA calls for it.
“The WGA has not called for anyone to boycott any of the streamers or to stop their streaming services yet,” he wrote on Tumblr. “It’s not ‘crossing the picket line’ to watch something on a network that we are striking against. I’ve seen it being discussed, but until the WGA calls for it, I don’t suggest doing it.”
In this context, “crossing a picket line” is essentially doing anything that undermines the strike or weakens the position from which the WGA committee, and now the SAG, would negotiate for a better deal.
When this strike is over, it’s in everyone’s best interest that entertainment content continues to be consumed liberally. The members are fighting for a bigger piece of the pie, like higher residuals (financial compensation paid to actors, directors, and others involved in making TV shows and movies when their work is re-used beyond its initial performance) for streaming content.
Hopefully, their very reasonable demands will be met, and they’ll start getting bigger paychecks for the content they’ve helped create.
That means it’s important that these streaming giants, like Netflix, continue to show strong subscription numbers, with viewers logging many streaming hours, to ensure these creators can keep doing what they love. The goal is to avoid cancellation of shows because no one is watching them, making it even harder for these actors and writers to bounce back after a potentially several months-long strike.
Additionally, some writers are still getting paid tiny residuals from these television shows and movies, so continuing to tune in might indirectly end up helping the WGA.
It does seem that the strike is going to last for months rather than weeks.
Previous disputes like this one have been lengthy battles lasting 20 weeks or more, so this is unlikely to be resolved quickly.
That’s going to have a seriously damaging effect on the strikers’ livelihoods. It will also do a lot of damage to studios and streamers, whose schedules have already been disrupted after several weeks of the writers’ strike.
One thing that’s easy to lose sight of is that the strike doesn’t just affect production. As the Oppenheimer cast recently demonstrated when they walked out of the film’s premiere after hearing news of the strike, it also affects the promotion machine, including press events, re-shoots and ADR, film festivals, social media posts, and more.
That means many highly anticipated, already-written productions — like Ghostbusters 4, Avatar 3, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part Two, Gladiator 2, Deadpool 3, Venom 3, and the Lilo & Stich live-action adaptation – are in limbo.
Additionally, the actors’ strike will force nearly every U.S.-based show that hasn’t already been shut down by the writers’ strike into hiatus. Forthcoming seasons of television shows are likely to be delayed indefinitely.
Late-night network talk shows and Saturday Night Live shut down almost immediately after the start of the writers’ strike. In the two months since, many scripted television series have also shut down, including Netflix’s Stranger Things, Max’s Hacks, Showtime’s Yellowjackets, and Apple TV+’s Severance.
As for shows on Netflix and Prime, you might not notice an impact right away. But you’ll eventually have to wait much longer for your favorite original series to return.
While the unions continue to encourage you to keep streaming, consider it a great time to discover new shows and catch up on programming you may have missed or not had time to watch previously.
It’s important to note that the “it’s okay to stream” stance may change in the future, and we all need to pay close attention to guidance from the unions in case the strike does drag on. If studios start playing dirty, the unions may ask for greater support for the fans to put pressure on these mega-corporations where they’ll feel it most: in their bottom line.