The Latest on the Hollywood Gender Pay Gap

August 21, 2015

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIMhsvy4wPk

There has obviously been a disparity in pay between men and women in the entertainment industry since the earliest days of filmmaking, but one would think with the advent of women’s lib, and the equal-pay-for-equal-work campaigns, as well as the fact that this is the 21st century, men and women would necessarily be paid equitably.

But that’s definitely not the case. Top actresses certainly make a ton of cash, but they are paid well below their male counterparts. Let’s take the payroll of Jennifer Lawrence into consideration; the megastar profited $52 million in 2015. Now, that’s quite a chunk of change, but it pales in comparison to her male counterpart at the top of the heap, Robert Downey, Jr., who made a whopping $80 million in the same year. The second highest paid actress, Scarlett Johansson pulled in $35.5 million in comparison to Jackie Chan, who earned an even $50 million. And one of the hottest actresses on the planet, Melissa McCarthy accrued $23 million in comparison to Vin Diesel of the Fast and Furious series, who made himself a cool $47 million. And the disparity only gets wider as we go further down the list.

Many argue these discrepancies are the fruits of garden-variety sexism and discrimination, as the numbers are pretty clear. However, others argue that Hollywood is a business that exists to make money, and the powers that be are merely attempting to maximize stock for their shareholders. In fact, the studios now have mathematicians crunching numbers constantly to establish how much a given actor or actress will generate at the box office; this is a requisite principal of capitalism and a free market economy.

But the upshot of all this is that the audience ultimately determines salaries in Hollywood. As well, actors and actresses alike negotiate their salaries well before a frame of film or a pixel of video is ever shot. Therefore, actresses are within their purview to simply turn down an offer they believe is below their market value.

What’s your opinion on this matter? Is sexism just rampant in Hollywood and the metrics bear that fact out beyond debate? Or do women need to flex their muscles and negotiate from a position of strength and a better understanding of their power?