' ' Cinema Romantico: Gig 'Em

Friday, July 14, 2023

Gig 'Em

Prior to a 1930 college football game against rival TCU, regent and alum P.L. “Pinkie” Downs asked of his alma mater Texas A&M, “What are we going to do to those Horned Frogs?” It was rhetorical, of course, as he told them what they were going to do. “Gig ’em, Aggies!” he implored, referencing a frog hunting tool called a gig, and which Downs underlined by making a fist with his thumb extended straight up, becoming a time-honored Aggie symbol of vanquishing your opponent just as one might impale his or her amphibious prey. 

Today at the stroke of midnight, 233 years since the storming of the Bastille, after failing to reach an agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers the Screen Actors Guild went on strike, joining the Writers Guild of America which has been on strike since May, their first tandem labor action since 1960. Effectively, it brought both the movie and television industries to a standstill, putting into perspective what they are asking for in the first place, protections against emergent AI technology and fairer wages in a world thrown topsy-turvy by streaming. “We can’t have art,” said Lynda Carter in endorsing the strike on Twitter, “(without) a sustainable future for artists.” 

“There’s a level of expectation that they have that is just not realistic,” said Bob Iger, CEO of Disney, who earlier this year began renovations for an estimated $33 million on his Los Angeles mansion. Money talks and bullshit walks, I guess, as Bobbi Flekman of “This Is Spinal Tap” once observed, who was played by Fran Drescher, who just happens to be President of SAG. “If we don’t stand tall right now, we are all going to be in trouble. We are all going to be in jeopardy of being replaced by machines and big business,” Drescher declared, framing the battle in existential terms, which I appreciated. The line between art made by artists and content carried through our bodies by feeding tube has never been muddier.  

Going to movie and watching movies are perhaps my favorite activity, but I am more than happy to have nothing to watch for as long as it takes, for the WGA and SAG to not bend until these swines of misrule break. Gig ’em.

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