Zachary Levi backtracks on joke about strikes 

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Apparently, Zachary Levi, the Shazam actor, did not utilize the Wisdom of Solomon when he made a controversial joke regarding the SAG-AFTRA strikes at the Manchester Comic Con late last month. As a result of the backlash received, the actor back tracked.

“It’s come to my attention that an offhand remark I made in jest last weekend is being taken out of context,” Levi said in his statement. “So let me be very clear. I fully support my union, the WGA, and the strike. I remain an outspoken critic of the exploitative system that us artists are subject to work in since I started my journey in this business 25 years ago. This strike is necessary to protect ourselves, our writers, and all those working in production who make the industry move.”

At the Manchester Comic Con, Levi, wielding a microphone in front of con goers, Levi made a joke about how the SAG-AFTRA strike rules were “so dumb.” He referenced “Shazam,” “Chuck,” and “Tangled,” as the works he was unable to talk about. 

“This is so dumb,” Levi said. “I am not allowed to talk about any of my previous work. I’m not allowed to talk about movies that I may be a superhero in, I’m not allowed to talk about TV shows that I have been a nerd who worked at a Best Buy. I’m not allowed to talk about any animated princess movies that I was fantastic in as the best prince ever. I’m not allowed to talk about those things.” 

In his statement, Levi said that “cannot forget our fans during this strike” and that they “spend their money and energy traveling far distances to talk with us about our work that means so much to them.” He also added that the entertainment industry “exists and succeeds because of the fans” and that “it’s imperative we appreciate them for their support of our careers.” 

Last month, Levi posted a video on his Instagram account defending the strike by saying that the studio heads “do not care about human life, they don’t care about, really, life in general. They care about profits. It’s always profit over people and not the other way around. So mark my words, if we don’t do something drastic right now…we’re doing something very drastic, and we need to be doing this very drastic thing. We need to be striking, we should have done this years ago.”  

Levi is the second actor to make controversial comments about the strike followed by “Arrow” actor Stephen Amell who said that he was against striking and viewed it as a “reductive negotiating tactic.” 

While the “Tangled” actor made some valid points in his statement, such as discussing one’s work to fans, one can argue that he should have made that perfectly clear at the convention. But unlike Stephen Amell, he just rang a bell that he cannot unring. 

Not every actor or actress makes a lot of money or can afford to live in a house in Hollywood. Some can barely afford health insurance or to see a general practitioner for a cold. 

The SAG-AFTRA strike rules state that actors should not post their thoughts or opinions on movies, TV shows, or performances. The rule has also applied to content creators regardless of whether they are being compensated or not. 

This is a way to show solidarity with what the strikers are stressing: “increased minimum pay rates, increased streaming residuals (neither or which have kept up with inflation), and improved working conditions.”

If actors like Levi and Amell really supported the SAG-AFTRA and WAG unions, they should be very careful to say things that would be construed in the contrary. Or, they should keep their opinions to themselves. 

As I have stated before, strikes are a peaceful way to express dissatisfaction and criticism and they are a part of our First Amendment rights. It would behoove creators to strike and ask for a liveable wage, health insurance, and other benefits that would support them and their loved ones. 

Not everyone makes the same amount of money as Levi and Amell. As I have also stated, there are some actors and writers who have to work extra jobs to make ends meet so that they can do what they love: perform. 

And if Levi and Amell support the unions, then maybe they should not only go out and strike with their fellow actors and creators but they should also sit down with one of them and talk about why they are striking. Then maybe, they would have a better understanding. 

Brian Adigwu

Brian of Earth-16 is a podcaster for the Geek Talk with Brian of Earth-16 and a contributing writer/journalist for the Daily Planet. You can also hear Brian on the DC Comics Geeks Nation podcast. When not writing, Brian enjoys going to the world of comic books, TV shows, video games, and pro-wrestling. He also loves listening to other podcasts and having a philosophical conversation.

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