Friday, 23 January 2015

Feminism in Hollywood.



Feminism being the current theme in a hugely powerful industry with enormously influential people is incredible. The Golden Globes this year was hosted by two amazing feminists, Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, who throughout the night made painfully awkward yet potent comedic comments on gender inequality crimes within the film and television industry such as the Bill Cosby rape accusations and the pay gaps even within the multi-million dollar business. The girls were powerful and witty and heroic in using such a well publicised event to scrutinise the obvious sexism they as female comedians experience and the racism highlighted at such award events. We use film and television as a microcosm to reflect on the real world anyway and so having the inequality of the industry highlighted is like looking in a mirror from the rest of society.

However, I have a bone to pick. There is of course a slight hypocrisy in the recent complaints made by a few female actors about the pay gap between them and the male stars in the movies they make. Jennifer Garner made some very valid observations about how when her husband Ben Affleck is interviewed, he is never asked about his family but when she herself is interviewed she is repeatedly asked how she balances work and family which is backward and ridiculous.
She then revealed how a female star is almost never paid more than a female star in a movie, which is wrong, but the figures of how much they get paid makes it hard to feel a little sorry for them. Sandra Bullock would probably be paid $51 million for a movie whereas Robert Downey Jr is paid a whopping $75 million. I think it's important to take into account here not only how there's a gender pay gap, but a pay gap between big actors and smaller actors who both do the exact same thing. It's not a question of talent because there are people out struggling in the acting industry with a world of brilliance they're unable to share. There is a ridiculous amount of money flying around in the Hollywood business where films are being made that aren't even guaranteed to be as good as an indie film on a tiny budget. I admire Jennifer Garner but I'm not honestly sure how she's going to win the support of us mere mortals who would be pleased to reach over £50,000 as an annual income in our lifetimes.

Equality needs to happen in all industries and societies and it's exciting how mainstream feminism is becoming, but complaining about a pay gap that has no effect on whether you can afford to pay your bills or not, just on how big your will might be, is possibly not going to gain a huge amount of sympathy.