The Dramatic Stand in the SAG-AFTRA Strike
The Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) strike that hit the entertainment industry in early July has been filled with unforgettable moments. Among them, one of the most remarkable demonstrations occurred when veteran stunt performer Mike Massa took a stand by literally setting himself ablaze.
Igniting the Conversation: A Fiery Protest
Massa, a seasoned stunt professional, executed a blazing spectacle in Atlanta, Georgia, highlighting the simmering tension between the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) and SAG-AFTRA. He chose to make a powerful statement, aligning himself with the actors’ strike. The daring display was captured in a clip posted on his Instagram page, a public platform that amplified the stunt performer’s message: the AMPTP is “burning” them, and they’re tired of it.
Uniting the Fraternity: Support from the Stunt Community
The incident turned into a gathering of solidarity when the local stunt community and actors joined forces. The demonstration, supported by a team of fellow stunt performers and supervised by local firefighters, underscored their unity and determination to be heard.
Massa, whose notable work includes doubling for Harrison Ford in “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny,” expressed gratitude towards his team and the Atlanta stunt community. The attendance of the local actors and stunt performers painted a compelling picture of unity.
The Crux of the Matter: The Stakes of the Strike
But why was this dramatic act necessary? The Atlanta group gathered to voice their frustration over the AMPTP’s lack of support for the SAG-AFTRA union, whose members are battling for improved wages, streaming residuals, and more. The numbers are staggering; 87% of the SAG-AFTRA’s 160,000 members make less than $26,000 a year. This inadequate income level means many don’t even qualify for health insurance.
Echoes in the Entertainment Industry: Impact of the Strike
Massa’s fiery protest came during a tumultuous period in the entertainment industry, as it was grappling with both the SAG-AFTRA strike and the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike. The impact of these strikes was substantial. While some TV shows and films escaped unscathed due to pre-written scripts, the SAG-AFTRA action against the AMPTP has brought much of the entertainment industry to a standstill.
In the face of these ongoing strikes, some productions have been able to continue. Daytime soap operas, protected under a different union agreement, and U.K. productions have been granted the green light. However, the majority of television and film sets remain inactive, as all SAG-AFTRA members have been asked to cease promoting their past, present, and future projects until an agreement is made with the AMPTP.
As the stakes continue to rise, performers like Mike Massa remind us that sometimes, a stunt is more than a spectacular feat. It’s a testament to their resilience and determination to fight for their rights, even if it means setting themselves on fire.
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