Melissa Gilbert calls SAG-AFTRA Halloween costume ban ‘silly’

Last week SAG-AFTRA issued guidelines to its members for Halloween costumes mid-strike. The main gist was asking actors not to post pics on social media of themselves dressed as characters from struck work. The guild said “Let’s use our collective power to send a loud and clear message to our struck employers that we will not promote their content without a fair contract.” I honestly thought this all made sense, but many actors were not pleased with the development, calling the guidelines a joke in the midst of stalled negotiations. Actress Melissa Gilbert is a former SAG-AFTRA president, and she had some pointed criticism for the current union leaders:

While the guidelines only apply to actors who plan to make public appearances or post on social media for Halloween, many still saw the advice as excessive. Former Screen Actors Guild president Melissa Gilbert took to her personal Instagram account to criticize the rules, dismissing them as an unhelpful distraction.

“THIS is what you guys come up with? Literally no one cares what anyone wears for Halloween,” Gilbert wrote in response to the union’s costume guidelines. “I mean, do you really think this kind of infantile stuff is going to end the strike? We look like a joke. Please tell me you’re going to make this rule go away… and go negotiate!”

Gilbert went on to tag the accounts of guild leaders Fran Drescher and Duncan Crabtree-Ireland and asked them to focus on more substantive issues.

“For the love of God, people are suffering mightily and this is what you have to say… c’mon guys,” she wrote. “This is the kind of silly bullsh*t that keeps us on strike. ‘Let’s enact a policy that makes us look petty and incompetent at the same time.’”

[From IndieWire]

I can’t help but find it a little funny that Melissa says “Literally no one cares what anyone wears for Halloween,” when… people are objecting to guidelines dictating what they can wear for Halloween! And I get it, Halloween was always my favorite holiday growing up and I put a lot of work into building my costumes. Some memorable efforts were Scarlett O’Hara, a French Can-Can girl (I reused the petticoat from Scarlett!), and I Dream of Jeannie. I think the part of the memo that Melissa and others are misunderstanding is that the rules are just for social media posts, or if an actor is taking part in a public Halloween event. No one is being told what to do for private festivities. But SAG-AFTRA has definitely heard the criticism, and they’ve since put out some clarifications:

“SAG-AFTRA issued Halloween guidance in response to questions form content creators and members about how to support the strike during this festive season. This was meant to help them avoid promoting struck work, and it is the latest in a series of guidelines we have issued. It does not apply to anyone’s kids. We are on strike for important reasons, and have been for nearly 100 days. Our number one priority remains getting the studios back to the negotiating table so we can get a fair deal for our members, and finally put our industry back to work.”

[From Yahoo! Entertainment]

So they’re making clear that the rules are not for anyone’s kids (although Ryan Reynolds landed the perfect quip on X/Twitter to that possibility, as per usual). And SAG-AFTRA is also plainly stating that the guidelines were in response to questions from members, and that the union’s main focus is getting AMPTP back to the negotiating table. That second part addresses the complaint that Melissa Gilbert and others had, that Halloween costume rules were drafted to the exclusion of other work being done to end the strike. They were not! Fran Drescher and Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, my hyphenated hero, haven’t let up in dealing with the studio leadership. So I hope the actors feel they’ve been heard by SAG-AFTRA, because AMPTP would love nothing more than for there to be fractures in solidarity. In fact, no costume would be scarier to the studio heads than actors showing up as united workers.

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9 Responses to “Melissa Gilbert calls SAG-AFTRA Halloween costume ban ‘silly’”

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  1. Flamingo says:

    At first, I thought it was silly too. Then I remembered there are people who are on the verge of losing their homes. Or having to sell their homes. People who have a Master’s Degree in the Arts and are becoming Uber drivers to keep their heads above water.

    People who are financially secure have no right to say anything. All that matters is getting a fair deal in place. However, it’s done. Keep your yap shut and stand together.

    • Kingston says:

      Hart should keep her yap shut with this kind of petty criticism of the leadership. Even if she thought it was an inconsequential thing for the leadership to be focused on, surely she doesnt believe they have ignored the ongoing work to get the negotiations going again, just to focus on this halloween costume directive?!

      I think melissa’s basic problem is that because she grew up in the industry, she believes she knows it all and prolly believes the leadership should come to her for advice on how to carry out their work.

      I just did a google search to see if she has offered public support and she has, on her podcast whatwomenbingeDOTcom on her youtube channel. But surely she knows that any hint of disunity is always a chink in one’s armor that an opposing force gleefully welcomes?

      Why didnt she speak to the current leadership in private about what she thought of the halloween costume directive, and left it private?

      • Kate says:

        Believe you are thinking of a different Melissa (Joan Hart), not Melissa Gilbert.

        I agree with Flamingo that I thought it was kind of silly at first, but it would also be weird to see lots of actors flocking to IG to post themselves dressed up as Barbie. I can see how that is not in spirit of the strike.

  2. Ace says:

    I’ll side eye any actor on strike who complain about this to be honest. It’s still struck work! If the actors are not doing promo for any of their movies or shows, why on earth would it be cool for Melissa Gilbert to, for example, dress like Captain Marvel and post the pics on her instagram? That’s still promo for the movie, which is not allowed!

  3. Muggs says:

    I feel like it would send a better message if they asked the public not to dress up as a character from struck work. I don’t think most people would comply but it would really show how much power is in the hands of SAG-AFTRA and us as consumers.

  4. Concern Fae says:

    They are asking influencers* not to promote struck work through cosplay, etc. The least they can do is hold themselves to the same rules.

    *SAG and potentially future SAG influencers

  5. BlueNailsBetty says:

    There are a bazillion costume ideas for Halloween so anyone complaining because they can’t dress up as a tv/movie character is showing how deeply uncreative they are.

  6. Jais says:

    Actors publicly complaining about Halloween costume guidelines from SAG is just not it imo. Big deal. Get creative with your costumes. And stay publicly United and supportive of the union that is negotiating with the greedy bad faith AMPTP.

  7. J says:

    It is silly, it does nothing to advance the very worthy SAG cause and just feeds into the conservative trope that liberals just want to control everyone’s freedom.