Justine Bateman Slams SAG-AFTRA Deal’s AI Provisions, Says Actors Should Only Approve It ‘If They Don’t Want to Work Anymore’ (Video)

Justine Bateman is deeply disappointed with the tentative agreement in place between SAG-AFTRA and the major studios, which ended the strike. While speaking with MSNBC’s Ali Velshi, she explained that members of the union should approve the deal after voting begins Tuesday only “if they don’t want to work anymore.”

Bateman added, “If they want to be replaced by synthetic objects that are made by generative AI, why not?”

The filmmaker, who also serves as the union’s AI advisor, has been fighting against integrating generative AI into the industry all year. As she told Velshi on Friday’s show, Bateman believes that studio executives “are choosing to no longer be in the film and series business.” Instead, she added, they are pushing out positions for humans who make up casts and crews and letting AI do the work instead.

“I think they sort of like to think of themselves as being tech barons themselves or something. But this, doing projects that don’t involve humans is not being… you’re not in the film business anymore,” she continued. “They don’t know what it’s like to make a film.”

Velshi asked her what consumers of media can do to support Bateman and creators like her who don’t plan to incorporate generative AI into their work. For Bateman, it “depends on what you want.”

“I mean, soon they’ll have customized films for you based on your particular viewing history,” she added. “And they won’t bother to copyright them because it’ll be like Kleenex. They’ll make a million of them an hour, it won’t matter to them.”

Bateman added, “The train track is split. One train track is going, ‘OK, we’re going to participate in this sort of negotiation with the cannibals and we’re going to talk about just how you’re going to be cutting my foot off, and are you going to grill it or boil it, and what kind of sauce are you going to put on it?'”

That track, she added, is the one that includes generative AI. As for Bateman, “I’m on a different track, which, I’m going to be making human things for human audiences with human crews and casts and so forth. And we’ll see what happens.”

Members of SAG-AFTRA will begin voting on whether to ratify the agreement this Tuesday. Voting concludes the first week of December.

A summary of the proposed contract will be released on Monday. The new contract was approved by 86% of the union’s board.

Early Saturday, Bateman explained on X (formerly Twitter) that she intends to go over the actual deal document with her followers. She posted, “I will be taking the actual deal document (and not the ‘summary’ SAG is planning to release) and explaining the violating #AI permissions the AMPTP will have over you. I’m very disappointed that the SAG leadership and committee did not take my guidance on the #AI issues.”

She continued her thread, “I have spent time over the past eight months writing op-eds, doing press interviews, and posting on social media to warn my fellow entertainment workers about how the studios/streamers mean to discard you with generative #AI.”

She added, “Why? Because it’s the right thing to do, because it’s unconscionable what the CEOs are doing, and because it would be immoral of me to not tell you just how the actors and crew, in particular, are going to be abused.”

Bateman concluded, “I’ve said from the beginning that the use of generative #AI will collapse the structure of this business. I want the actors and crew to have enough self-respect to turn over a table and flip the CEOs off as it happens. They’re going to leave you with nothing left to lose.”

Watch Bateman’s interview in the video above.

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