By Danae Clark
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Extra info for Negotiating Hollywood: The Cultural Politics of Actors' Labor
65 Gaining the loyalty and commitment of prominent actors was essential to Equity's overall success. But the stakes and issues were vastly different for stars than they were for other classes of actors. Whereas the distinguished stars could arrange contracts that guaranteed high wages and specified certain favorable working conditions, most of the industry's actors—especially screen extras—were not in a position to bargain. If they spoke out against abuses they were seldom reemployed at the same studio; and since they were never sure of continuous work, most actors kept quiet.
Although it created an imaginary relation of fair exchange between legal subjects, the contract spelled out the terms by which one party would be able to transform the labor and representation of the second party. In addition, the contract exposed the constructedness of the star image at the same time it created the possibility for coherence. This is surely one reason that the studios responded so harshly when actors challenged their contracts. Such challenges ran the risk of disrupting the coherent images that studios wanted to present to the public.
Even so, these voices are included not so much as a means to authenticate certain individuals (or individual subjects) as to signify various subject positions available for actors as laborers. Moreover, these voices are always already "positioned," as they have already been discursively represented in historical accounts and documents. One of the major tasks of this project, then, is to map the terrain of actors' labor and subjectivity, to locate the various sites in which actors' labor power and subjectivity is constructed, fought over, and played out.
Negotiating Hollywood: The Cultural Politics of Actors' Labor by Danae Clark