The Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) has offered clarification on how fans of TV shows and movies whose actors and writers are currently on strike can continue to cosplay, as well as support the ongoing strikes.
In a panel at San Diego Comic-Con titled “AI in Entertainment: The Performers’ Perspective,” SAG-AFTRA national executive director and chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland answered a question from Temple of Geek about how fans interested in supporting the strikes can do so amid conflicting information about whether or not it’s acceptable to cosplay characters from striking work. Although SAG-AFTRA try to share clear guidelines about who can do whatmany supporters of the strikes worry about inadvertently crossing picket lines.
Crabtree-Ireland initially responded by thanking fans for their support, noting that the content communities who are taking strong public stances have noticed and are grateful to those on the picket lines. “They respect him. It means everything to them.”
He then went on to instruct cosplayers and fans, noting SAG-AFTRA’s strong rules about not promoting winning work:
The purpose of this is to ensure that every opportunity for companies to take revenue or make money on these projects that have been done is stopped, as much as possible. It is such a strict rule because we want the strike to be as short as possible and anything we do that we can achieve or lessons that resolve a tendency to drag out the strike, to make it last longer. We don’t want that.
As far as individual cosplayers go, it’s fine under our rules — our committee has said it’s fine for them to cosplay. My suggestion to them is that if you’re supporting the strike, find a way to – because I know how creative the cosplayers are because I’ve been here many, many times – find a way to combine your support for the strike with your favorite cosplay because then you’re really helping us send the message that we’re trying to send, which is the general public united, supporting us in the demands that we’re making that are reasonable. You heard the actors talk about them here, and it was great to have support from all the fandoms.
Other members of the panel also weighed in with their thoughts on what fans could do to support them. Horizon: Zero Dawn and Mythic Quest actress Ashly Burch suggested fan cosplay individuals such as SAG national president and actress Fran Drescher, or WGA board member and TV host Adam Conover.
Zeke, SAG-AFTRA negotiator and actor Zeke, also shared thanks and praise:
“I just want to talk to the cosplayers: love what you love. Do what you do,” he said. “This thing is so popular because you love the art we create, so we can’t do this without you. We do this for you. And I think it’s said here that you can do what you do and still support us. Weave it into your cosplay. We want to see the best Duncan Crabtree-Ireland you can be. You’re creative people too, so use that creativity to benefit us all.”
Although it fell into the discussion of cosplay, the panel was held to discuss how entertainment performers must adapt to the increased use of AI and machine learning to replicate their work, including the need for new legal frameworks and standards to help protect their art and their rights as workers.
Both the cosplay issues and the AI discussion follow SAG-AFTRA’s recent vote to strike after failing to reach an agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) to secure a new contract. The association joins the Writers Guild of America (WGA), which has been on strike since May. In addition to concerns about the narrowing of AI, both groups are demanding better pay and job security in a number of ways.
You can catch up on all the other news coming out of Comic-Con in our roundup of everything announced.