Celebrity strikes? Yes please!


Twenty-twenty is providing a much needed reminder of the absolute importance of essential workers and first responders. In times like these, it’s quite courageous for celebrities of all kinds to keep reminding us of their increasing irrelevance. For example, by going on strikes, ostensibly to deny their employers their labour, but really, to deny us, the dumb masses, the privilege of watching them in action and so sway us to their side.

National Basketball Association players are the latest example. The “strike” started strong, with six teams (Bucks, Magic, Rockets, Thunder, Lakers and Trail Blazers) refusing to play each other. Less than 48-hours later some sort of a face-saving compromise for both sides was agreed upon:

In their joint statement, NBA commissioner Adam Silver and players’ union executive director Michele Roberts announced that league arenas controlled by team owners will be converted into polling locations for this fall’s general election, and that the league will also work with players and broadcast partners to “create and include advertising spots in each NBA playoff game dedicated to promoting greater civic engagement in national and local elections and raising awareness around voter access and opportunity.”

Now Patrisse Cullors, one of the co-founders of the Black Lives Matter movement, is calling on Hollywood to strike in solidarity with the cause:

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, she said that “I think it’s time for talent, writers, executives, the guild and SAG to show up for Black lives as well”…

Cullors, who currently writes on Free Form’s Good Trouble is calling for a similar strike to occur in Hollywood, saying “I think Hollywood can really show up in this moment. While I understand not everyone can take the same risks, there is power and opportunity in developing a strategy and plan that centers the dignity of Black communities. That may mean a one-day strike or it may mean a day of educating Hollywood on what’s been happening to Black folks. Now is an opportunity for all of us to be bold and courageous.”

Apart from the fact that in a year of record unemployment and unprecedented economic and social disruption, an average person is hard pressed to give a shit whether some very highly paid famous people choose to work or not, there is another factor which makes any large scale celebrity strikes unlikely: Chinese money.

It’s not just that the income that sport and media-entertainment industries derive from the Chinese market as well direct and indirect Chinese investment make them notoriously self-censor themselves (in sport nowadays you have to apologise if you are criticising China and if you are not criticising America). It’s that they can’t afford to disrupt their business pipeline with the market that is far less indulgent and forgiving than the domestic one.

A celebrity strike where they stop playing post and producing entertainment? A boy could dream.