“Guardians of the Galaxy” actor Sean Gunn criticized Disney CEO Bob Iger for his remarks concerning the strikes by the Writer’s Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA).
During an appearance on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” Iger expressed his concerns about the potential impact of the actors’ union strike on the industry, stating that it would have a detrimental effect on the entire business.
Sean Gunn says “in 1980, CEOs made 30x what the lowest worker was making, now Bob Iger makes 400x what his lowest worker is making.”
“I think that’s a fucking shame Bob, and maybe you should look in the mirror & ask why is that? Is it morally okay?” pic.twitter.com/yJkbz9QT28
— DiscussingFilm (@DiscussingFilm) July 15, 2023
In response to Iger’s comments, Gunn took to the picket line and shared his thoughts in a TikTok video, later posted by the Associated Press. Gunn pointed out the significant disparity in compensation between CEOs like Iger and their lowest-paid employees, highlighting that Iger now earns 400 times more than his lowest worker, whereas in the 1980s, CEOs made only 30 times more. Gunn criticized this income gap, emphasizing his discontent by stating, “I think that’s a f—— shame, Bob.”
In addition to his critique of Iger, Gunn expressed frustration with Netflix, its co-CEO Ted Sarandos, and executive chair Reed Hastings. Gunn vented his dissatisfaction with the minimal residuals he receives from streaming platforms, particularly in relation to his work on the popular show “Gilmore Girls,” which he claims has generated substantial profits for Netflix over the years without proportionate compensation for the cast.
Gunn’s concerns extended beyond individual compensation, as he also highlighted the issue of wealth distribution within the industry. He questioned why bonuses for executives like Sarandos and Hastings couldn’t be reduced to provide fairer compensation for content creators. Gunn deemed the current situation a travesty, urging a reevaluation of business practices to ensure wealth is shared more equitably among those responsible for creating the content.
While Gunn’s comments regarding Sarandos and Hastings’ compensation were reported to be inaccurate, with bonuses not being a factor according to SEC filings, his broader criticism of wealth inequality and unfair compensation resonated with the frustrations of many actors and writers participating in the strike.
The strikes by SAG-AFTRA and the Writer’s Guild of America, which began in May, represent a united effort by screenwriters and actors to address various issues, including increased pay rates, streaming residuals, and regulations on the use of artificial intelligence in the writing process. The strikes mark a significant moment as it is the first time in over six decades that both unions have gone on strike simultaneously.
Iger, in his CNBC interview, expressed his concerns about the timing of the strikes, considering the ongoing challenges faced by the entertainment industry in recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. While he acknowledged the unions’ desire for fair compensation, he also stated that their expectations were unrealistic and added to the already disruptive circumstances the industry is dealing with.
As the strikes continue, both sides remain committed to their positions, leaving the industry in a state of uncertainty as it grapples with the complex issues raised by the unions.
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