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Gross: Disney CEO calls ongoing strikes “unrealistic” and “disturbing”

Of the many opinions shared on the writers and actors strike, Disney CEO Bob Iger had some particularly unfortunate words to share.

A bronze statue on Disney property depicting a director pointing past an old fashioned movie camera.

Amidst the ongoing writers and actors strike, Disney CEO Bob Iger lent his voice to the discourse, calling the movement “unrealistic” and “disturbing” in an appearance on CNBC

“We’ve talked about disruptive forces on this business and all the challenges we’re facing… This is the worst time in the world to add to that disruption,” explained Iger, citing COVID recovery and other economic turmoil.

“We managed, as an industry, to negotiate a very good deal with the directors guild that reflects the value that the directors contribute to this great business. We wanted to do the same thing with the writers, and we’d like to do the same thing with the actors. There’s a level of expectation that they have, that is just not realistic,” he added.

But blaming writers and actors for adding to the same economic strife that they’re protesting is a comically bad take, something with which the Disney CEO has some experience; his reaction to this entire process has been one of deflection, often moralizing to a degree that misses the point of the respective strikes—that writers and actors are tired of being paid less than they’re worth.

A common misconception in and of the entertainment industry is that virtually everyone involved in it is obscenely rich. That’s certainly true in some cases—Iger, whose salary included stipulations that allow him to make $27 million in a year, is one such case—but for many of the workers who do the legwork that arguably sustains the entertainment business, wages weren’t even livable. 

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“When Disney randomly decided to take mine & other POC support staff’s free lunch away mid show, it was the Writers who rotated giving us their lunch in solidarity,” tweeted Chas, an assistant who reportedly experienced the full brunt of a “change in the budget” that Disney cited when revoking lunch services.

Chas and other workers like him are integral in the process of making any product–especially one as layered and complex as an episode of television or a feature-length film—and failing to pay or support them appropriately is the real disturbing factor here.

As the strike continues, Bob Iger and other like minded individuals would do well to remember that, as is the case with so many industries, the work that pays their exorbitant salaries couldn’t exist without the backbreaking labor of the people who are unionizing now.

Jack Lloyd has a BA in Creative Writing from Forest Grove's Pacific University; he spends his writing days using his degree to pursue semicolons, freelance writing and editing, oxford commas, and enough coffee to kill a bear. His infatuation with rain is matched only by his dry sense of humor.


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