Sean Gunn, an actor for the “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchise, had some critical words to say toward Disney CEO Bob Iger after the executive called the demands of writers and actors “not realistic” in an interview with CNBC.
Sean Gunn Criticizes Bob Iger
The Associated Press shared the heated rant on TikTok, which can be viewed below:
I think that when Bob Iger talks about what a shame it [the strike] is, he needs to remember, in 1980, CEOs like him made 30 times what their lowest worker was making. Now, Bob Iger makes 400 times what his lowest worker is, and I think that’s a f——- shame, Bob — and maybe you should take a look in the mirror and ask yourself, why is that? And not only why is that, is it okay? Is it morally okay? Is it ethically okay that you make that much more than your lowest worker? And if so, why? Why is that okay? If your response is that’s just the way business is done now, that’s just the way corporations work now, well, that sucks, and that makes you a s—– person, if that’s your answer. So you should come up with a better answer than that.
In his work with Disney and Marvel, Sean Gunn is known for portraying Kraglin Obfonteri throughout the “Guardians of the Galaxy” trilogy, as well as providing the motion capture performance for Rocket. He is the brother of James Gunn, director and writer for the franchise.
Gunn is also not the only striker with choice words to say — Adam Conover (of the educational comedy television series “Adam Ruins Everything”) posted a video of his own to Instagram, also critiquing Iger’s choice of words.
So, this morning, the CEO of Disney went on TV and said that what writers and actors are asking for is not realistic, because they just don’t have enough money to pay us. But he said this at a billionaire retreat, where he was hanging out with Mark Zuckerberg and David Zaslav, that they all flew to on their private jets. And you know what? I don’t think that that’s f—— realistic. Here’s a dose of reality for you, Bob: writers cannot afford to pay their mortgages. Actors are not able to make a living in Los Angeles anymore. That is reality to us, not flying around on private jets — and until you accept that reality, we are going to be out here on the picket lines, withholding our labor, depriving you of your product, and you will not make another dollar off of us until you come back to the table and face reality and negotiate with us as you have refused to do. Until you do that, there will be no acting and no writing.
Tensions are extremely high between executives and workers — the frustrated sense of anger and resentment can be plainly seen in both sets of comments.
Bob Iger and the SAG-AFTRA Strike
The interview Gunn and Conover reference is from a couple of days ago, when Iger spoke with David Faber from the Sun Valley Conference in Idaho. He said of the multiple major Hollywood labor actions: “It’s very disturbing to me.”
“We’ve talked about disruptive forces on this business and all the challenges we’re facing, the recovery from COVID which is ongoing, it’s not completely back,” Iger continued. “This is the worst time in the world to add to that disruption.”
I understand any labor organization’s desire to work on behalf of its members to get the most compensation and be compensated fairly based on the value that they deliver. We managed, as an industry, to negotiate a very good deal with the directors guild that reflects the value that the directors contribute to this great business. We wanted to do the same thing with the writers, and we’d like to do the same thing with the actors. There’s a level of expectation that they have, that is just not realistic. And they are adding to the set of the challenges that this business is already facing that is, quite frankly, very disruptive.
He added, “It will have a very, very damaging effect on the whole business, and unfortunately, there’s huge collateral damage in the industry to people who are supportive services, and I could go on and on. It will affect the economy of different regions, even, because of the sheer size of the business. It’s a shame, it is really a shame.”
This strike began at midnight yesterday morning, and will specifically impact those under the 2020 TV & Theatrical contract, meaning a few members will be exempt in areas such as interactive entertainment, audio books, and commercials, among others. SAG-AFTRA has not gone on strike against television and film companies for over four decades, and both writers and actors have not been striking together at the same time since 1960.
“Union members should withhold their labor until a fair contract can be achieved,” Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, national executive director and chief negotiator of SAG-AFTRA, said. “They have left us with no alternative.”
SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher explained the reasoning further, citing the streaming service model and artificial intelligence as major concerns.
We are being victimized by a very greedy enterprise. At some point you have to say ‘no, we’re not going to take this anymore. You people are crazy. What are you doing? Why are you doing this?’
Before negotiations began on June 7, 97.91% of SAG-AFTRA members voted in favor of a strike authorization if agreements could not be made. After the contract (which was extended to July 12) expired this past week, the SAG-AFTRA negotiating committee voted unanimously to recommend a strike. The committee was negotiating with various studios and streamers, including Disney, NBCUniversal, Warner Bros., Netflix, and Amazon.
Direct impacts on the industry, and Disney specifically, are already being felt. “Deadpool 3” recently halted production indefinitely, until there is a resolution.