When I think of Hollywood, I think of those who are as far-removed from reality as possible, with little connection to the lives of us in Middle America. The product of their careers is entertainment, and while they sometimes like to play the part of "activist", such roles are an ill fit.
Such is the case with Jennifer Lawrence, a young, beautiful, very popular actress seen in wildly successful movie franchises like "The Hunger Games" and "X-Men". She recently shared her thoughts regarding Hollywood pay disparity in an online publication called Lenny's Letter, a Lena Dunham product.
Jennifer Lawrence slammed the gender pay inequality in Hollywood in a scathing essay addressing revelations from the Sony hack that she was earning less than her male co-stars in “American Hustle.”
“When the Sony hack happened and I found out how much less I was being paid than the lucky people with dicks, I didn’t get mad at Sony. I got mad at myself,” she wrote in an essay about Hollywood’s wage gap for her friend Lena Dunham’s Lenny Letter newsletter. “I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early. I didn’t want to keep fighting over millions of dollars that, frankly, due to two franchises, I don’t need.”
Jennifer Lawrence is talented, and when she burst onto the Hollywood scene, she seemed like a breath of fresh air. I remember thinking how I hoped she would maintain a mostly unspoiled, down-to-earth persona. Well, my hopes have clearly been dashed. Her reaction is that of a privileged 1-percenter whose salary is in the millions of dollars range, and whose perk-filled pampered life is lightyears beyond most in this country. I also enjoy how she stomps her feet in disgust, but then verbally shrugs it off, because she's already doing so well. And this is a role model for women? No thanks.
Earlier this year, at the star-studded Oscars, actress Patricia Arquette waved the banner for pay equality in her speech after her win of Best Supporting Actress:
“To every woman who gave birth to every citizen and taxpayer of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights,” she said. “It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”
I remember my reaction included an eye-roll and probably a yawn. The Patricia Arquettes, Jennifer Lawrences, and Gwyneth Paltrows of the world (who once said “I am who I am. I can’t pretend to be somebody who makes $25,000 a year”), are not mouthpieces for regular women. What's more, they muddy the discussion by appealing only to emotion, not facts. It is illegal to pay a woman less than a man solely based on gender. (See The Equal Pay Act of 1963.) Factors such as education, experience, ability, skill, and availability will all impact someone's salary. In the case of comparing men vs. women in the real world, much of the pay inequality outcry looks at the life of a career, sees a woman makes less, and outrage ensues. Over the life of a career, though, a woman's time on the job may be much less, as family and maternity responsibilities call her away.
But back to Jennifer Lawrence and her, uh, hardships. She has another movie coming out, and her pay on this one is newsworthy, too. As reported a few months ago by Daily Mail:
...it's emerged that she'll join an elite group of movie-stars that can command a $20million fee (£13million) for her next movie, Passengers - double what Guardians Of The Galaxy leading man Chris Pratt will reportedly receive.
I scanned the Lenny's Letter post Jennifer did recently, and I'm just not seeing any mention of this pay disparity over her male costar for this movie. Hmm. It's almost as if she speaks out on "inequality" when it best suits her and her agenda. As for the pay inequality she raged on about recently, it concerns the movie American Hustle. I saw this movie, and Jennifer is most definitely in fewer scenes than the male actors. So, maybe she was paid just for the work she did? Not sure about you, Middle American, but that sounds fair to me.
Not only is Jennifer Lawrence's complaint a bratty display from a wealthy youngster, but it highlights that claims of pay inequality are oftentimes not the complete story, and Hollywood is the least appropriate voice on the subject.