Patricia Arquette's comments a wake-up call to Hollywood
Patricia Arquette speaks after winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in "Boyhood" at the 87th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California February 22, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Blake
The best tweet we saw on Oscar night came from The Nation's Richard Kim and it went like this: "What is super tragic is this Oscars stands out for lauding women's equal pay & voting rights for African Americans, in 2015."
What is super tragic is this Oscars stands out for lauding women's equal pay & voting rights for African Americans, in 2015.— Richard Kim (@RichardKimNYC) February 23, 2015
(The second best comment came from Chris Rock, whose, “really hoping a rich famous white person wins an Oscar tonight,” was a big hit on Twitter.)
We don't know what you saw on the Oscars last Sunday, but we saw a town where time stood still, circa 1957. Hollywood is known around the globe for ageism; looks as if it's just as accomplished when it comes to sexism and racism, too.
It's a sad state of affairs when Patricia Arquette's Oscar speech about wage equality for women can be considered a big deal.
"To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else's equal rights," Arquette said in her speech. "It's our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America."
Did all those enthusiastic cheering actors just find out about this issue? Was everyone in Hollywood asleep for the last 50 years? Or maybe the powers that be figured Sally Field already fixed all that in Norma Rae.
You're a little late to the party, people, but never mind.
You're here now. Maybe.
It's hard to know what prompted Arquette's speech, but perhaps it's more fallout from the Sony hack. Those leaked e-mails, after all, are how Charlize Theron found out that her Snow White and the Huntsman co-star, Chris Hemsworth, was going to be paid a lot more money than she was. If someone as savvy as Theron can be so unpleasantly surprised, then perhaps other women in Hollywood were likewise unaware of the gender-based wage disparity in their industry.
As the world learned in January, it took those leaked Sony e-mails for Oscar-winning movie star Theron to find out that she would earn far less than action lunk Hemsworth to appear in the same movie. The actress was able to negotiate a raise based on the information.
Let's hope she negotiated an ass whupping for her agent and manager, too, for not representing her interests properly.
Last January, New York magazine reported that Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams got paid less than cast-mates Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, and Jeremy Renner for American Hustle. The same article revealed that Sony’s Columbia Pictures division has co-presidents; the male exec makes about $1 million more every year than his female counterpart, and they do exactly the same job.
The truth is that wage disparity is even more ridiculous in Hollywood than it is elsewhere. Two years ago, Forbes magazine pointed out that Hollywood's highest-paid actors made more than double what the highest-paid actresses made.
The Oscars seem to underline that Hollywood is a place where time stood still.
(Please don't include John Travolta in all this, whether he's manhandling Idina Menzel's face or sneaking up to Scarlett Johansson on the red carpet to plant a big and hugely unwelcome kiss on her. This is not sexism. This is creepism.)
As for the lack of diversity at the event, please — the winning director, Alejandro Inarritu, had to formerly request dignity and respect for fellow immigrants. And when Common and John Legend politely pointed out that some racial issues haven't changed much since the historic civil rights marches on Selma in 1965, a lot of people in that well-dressed audience looked as if it was the first they'd heard of it.
Weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth followed.
You have to wonder: how did the crucial job of storytelling fall to such a fantastically blinkered bunch? Just wondering.