Scabs and sports

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Wed Aug 9 11:30:57 MDT 2000

(From "Jockbeat" in

Just Call Them 'The Scabs'

OK, so professional football players aren't the most lovable unionists in
the world. But the release of the gridiron film The Replacements—insert Bob
Stinson joke here—comes with its own set of ironies. Based loosely on the
1987 NFL players' strike, the Gene Hackman-Keanu Reeves vehicle unabashedly
positions itself as a feel-good film about the joys of crossing the picket
line. "I would love it if it also touches people's emotions," says director
Howard Deutch, a member of the directors guild. "It would make me happy if
this film gave people a sense that if Shane, Coach McGinty, and the other
'losers' in the movie can redeem their dreams, then there's hope for
everyone." While it's not Triumph of the Will, The Replacements scores a
few clumsy, antilabor propaganda points—the striking star quarterback
played by Brett Cullen calls Keanu and Co. "scabs" and then, echoing recent
Hall of Fame inductee Joe Montana, crosses the picket line himself. This
venomous anti-union sentiment on a union production is troubling enough
under any circumstances, but the movie opens during the third month of the
Screen Actors Guild strike against commercial advertising shoots. SAG plans
to call Tiger Woods to an August 18 trial board for shooting a Buick
commercial in violation of the union's strike stance. Among the notable
supporters of the strike? The NFL Players Association. In a letter to its
rank and file, NFLPA head Gene Upshaw urged its members to "avoid shooting
commercials or advertisements that are considered 'struck work' until
further notice." While a couple of NFL-ers broke ranks—Terrell Davis and
Kurt Warner hawked Campbell's Soup—John Elway was one of the first to
negotiate an interim agreement that conformed to the SAG demands. While the
Players Association declined comment until the movie's official release,
the Screen Actors Guild downplayed the antilabor message of The
Replacements. "It's not been a topic of conversation," says SAG
spokesperson Greg Christman.

Louis Proyect
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