Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Update: Night of the Living Wage!

"Oh just take it. This is L.A,
$9 an hour is basically starvation. "
Well, it looks like the cruel overlords of Actor's Equity are going to force actors in L.A. to get paid for their hard work. Yup, even-wait what am I talking about? The thing with the actors in L.A. who were fighting with their Union over getting paid minimum wage? Some are against it because they're afraid that it might shut down small, artsy theatre companies who'd no longer be able to afford them, while others are sick and tired of being exploited? You seriously don't remember any of this? We talked about it like yesterday.

That guy, third from the left in the back
in Dark Knight Rises? Could've been me.
Anyway, Equity's national leadership has ruled that no, you can't just forgo getting paid minimum wage even if you just love acting so much that you're willing to survive on whatever half-finished bags of nuts you find wedged between the seats after the show's over. And good for them. Look, I'm not an actor in L.A. (they couldn't handle my intensity), so I have like zero stake in this, but the exception to the rules that allowed the actors there to not get paid was probably not the best idea in the long run.

If you're anything like me, you'll imagine
that Woollcott sounds like Snagglepuss.
A long time ago, a theatre critic called Alexander Woollcott once said that acting and prostitution were "[t]he two oldest professions in the world--ruined by amateurs." And I think he sort of had a point that applies to this situation-well, not about prostitutes, but about devaluation. When actors give it away for free (again, not talking about prostitutes) it can reinforce the perception that what they do isn't worthy of compensation which has an effect on actors who want to get paid a reasonable wage for their work.

Yeah, it will hurt the fringe theatres who can't otherwise afford professional actors, and that sucks, don't get me wrong. But for some reason our culture places an enormous value on professions that consist of sitting in an office and moving money from one place to another. At least actors have to get up. Shouldn't they get paid for it?
"I make six figures, have a retirement plan and have never had to sell my blood
on Craigslist to make ends meet. Oh and yes, I am quite dead inside."
-Business Guy

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