Thursday, December 18, 2014

Hollywood's Bottom Line is Biased, Big-Time

They say World War III will be fought digitally.

Think about it. If someone could hack into the Department of Defense or hospitals or nuclear power plants or every major bank, we would be crippled. Until that happens, we'll have to settle for nude pictures stolen from celebrities and ill-advised email rants. 

If you've been watching the news lately, you've heard a lot about the recent security breach at Sony Pictures. Stars' aliases are out there now (Jude Law is "Mr. Perry," Natalie Portman is "Lauren Brown"). Unreleased films may or may not have been leaked. And, Angelina Jolie was referred to as “a minimally talented spoiled brat.” It's all very entertaining. 

Well, maybe not to Angelina.

What bothers me most is the monetary gender divide that's surfaced. It's no secret that men make more money than women — not just in Hollywood but across all industries. But, now through the leaked emails, there's very specific proof that movie studios are compensating their male stars more than their female ones.

According to an email stream between top executives at Sony and Columbia Pictures, the director and five stars of last year's American Hustle were given backend deals as follows:

David O. Russell, 9 points
Christian Bale, 9 points
Bradley Cooper, 9 points
Jeremy Renner, 9 points

Do we see a pattern here? Now, let's take a look at the film's celebrated actresses:

Amy Adams, 7 points
Jennifer Lawrence, 7 points

Ah, there's a pattern here too. For the record, both women were nominated for Academy Awards. So it wouldn't appear that their performances were in any way sub-par. In case you're wondering just how significant (or in-), a two-point (which means two percent) spread is, the movie has earned more than $250 million worldwide.

Whoa.

This discrepancy isn't limited to the talent in front of the cameras either. The hacked documents included a spreadsheet of 6,000 Sony employees and their salaries. Out of the seventeen who earned more than $1,000,000 a year, only one was a woman. And, a co-president of production for Columbia Pictures, she makes nearly a million less than her counterpart, someone who does exactly the same job but happens to have a penis.

Sorry, I'm pissed.

The actresses (and other under-paid Sony employees involved) haven't said much yet. My hope is that their silence is the result of good counsel from attorneys. My hope is that they're getting ready to sue.

And, if that happens, if Jennifer and Amy become the Lily Ledbetters of Tinseltown, I'll be the first to applaud the hackers for a job well done. Certainly, shedding light on gender inequality wasn't their objecctive. But what a wonderful byproduct.

We live in a digital world, and online reputations — personal and professional — are easily damaged and difficult to rebuild. Eventually some evil programming wunderkind may start WWIII.

Until then, can't we please stop the war on women?

If you enjoyed this post, I invite you to order a copy of Lovin' the Alien at www.lovinthealien.com.  

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