Why we should care about the actors’ strike

Israel is at war with terrorists. The U.S. economy is headed for the deepest economic depression since 1929, and, a few weeks ago, Bernie Madoff swindled $50 billion from investors who trusted him, crippling families, foundations and non-profit organizations around the world. This in mind, it comes as little surprise that few people have tolerance (or any interest in) the looming actors’ strike. When millions of people around the country are losing their jobs, why should we care about the majority of the 110,000 Screen Actors Guild members who claim they can’t afford health insurance? 

SAG is arguing that just because the economy is in tatters doesn’t mean actors should accept insufficient contracts. And, as the NY Times Carpetbagger reported a few weeks ago, there is internal division among actors as to whether or not to even authorize a strike. Movie stars George Clooney, Tom Hanks and Charlize Theron have vocally opposed the movement. But Mel Gibson, Martin Sheen and Ed Harris are ready to brawl. To be fair, the tiny minority of celebrities in SAG do not share the same concerns as the majority of under- or unemployed actors who are more dependent on pushing this forward. But still, if the SAG family can’t even agree on where to head, how can they expect our support?

Because we need our actors. It is precisely during dark times that we need the entertainment they offer, the most. Imagine enduring the daily barrage of depressing headlines without the promise of escape entertainers guarantee us. How much worse would war or economic recession seem without the possibility of being set free in a dark theater—where India’s “slumdogs” can become millionaires, and Jewish brothers defy Nazis (who, in other films, look like Kate Winslet), where people fall in love, and “Revolutionary Road” is there to remind you your marriage isn’t that bad after all.

Actors are the image people, the ones we see, who most closely reflect us. It is their heartrending portrayals that can bring us out of our own pain and into a world where hope is still possible.