The Sony hack exposing that Jennifer Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars forAmerican Hustle lays bare a fundamental problem. Women are underpaid even at insanely high levels.
The Daily Beast reports that Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams were paid 2% less than their male co-stars for American Hustle. From their exclusive report:
In an email dated December 5, 2013, Andrew Gumpert, President of Business Affairs and Administration for Columbia Pictures, wrote to Pascal and Doug Belgrad, President of SPE Motion Picture Group, about the “points”—or back-end compensation—that each actor was to receive on Hustle. (The “Amy” referred to is Amy Adams, “O’Russell” is director David O. Russell, “Renner” is Jeremy Renner, and “Megan” is Megan Ellison, head of Annapurna Pictures, which co-financed Hustle.)
“Got a steve warren/gretchen rush call that it’s unfair the male actors get 9% in the pool and jennifer is only at 7pts,” the email reads. “You may recall Jennifer was at 5 (amy was and is at 7) and WE anted in 2 extra points for Jennifer to get her up to 7. If anyone needs to top jennifer up it’s megan. BUT I think amy and Jennifer are tied so upping JL, ups AA.”
Gumpert added, “The current talent deals are: O’Russell: 9%; Cooper: 9%; Bale: 9%; Renner: 9%; Lawrence: 7%; Adams: 7%.”
The sick motivation behind the Sony hack is awful, and celebrating this scandal or feeding the fire is wrong, except with this because it’s scandalous for an important reason. These powerhouse women drove this movie and this was the deal they got. The fact that only the women get less points is seriously distressing. Jennifer Lawrence shot off beams of hatred in her role as the troubled wife, and Amy Adams was brilliant, but this isn’t about how they deserve even more money for how well they did their jobs. It doesn’t matter if Gumpert was blown away by the way she acted like by ruining that microwave, she did a favor for everyone. It’s about equal treatment.
Maybe you’re not worried about J. Law getting her fair share, what with 7% being a lot while women work tirelessly for far less. (The hack also revealed a huge pay gap for Sony’s female employees, no surprise there.) But you’d think that for an actress like Jennifer Lawrence, equal pay or even better pay would be a given. Amy Adams arguably had the bigger role, but there’s no way we can act like Lawrence’s bouffant on the movie’s poster didn’t bring in ticket sales in a serious way. She was the face of this movie, promotionally. It just shows how far our allergy to giving women what they deserve reaches.
We should never have to say, “I goofed! These women selling the movie for us still exist and paying people equally is a thing, according to this e-mail I just got!” Unfortunately for Sony, shooting off e-mails about the fact that the women are underpaid isn’t like nursery school where you get credit for just making the effort to get the cookies in your mouth. You need do to what’s right.
What’s good about this particular hack is that the assumption that a hugely popular actress will make as much as her male co-stars is in direct conflict with the reality, and there’s no running away from this. It shows that you might be able to get away with handing women the short end of the stick, but you’ll be exposed for it, and that’s good.
Maybe it was silly to think that America’s sweetheart would be any different than the rest of us. The documentary Miss Representation points out that there are more women in Congress than their are female directors in Hollywood. Obviously leading men drive celluloid stories, and the people handling the money are mostly men, but Lawrence and Adams were all part of the same golden American Hustle team.
In this e-mail exchange, Pascal allegedly wrote back, “there is truth here.” Is there, really? There are different ways to slice up royalties in a contract, but the fact that Lawrence and Adams are the only ones making less than the others just takes the curtain off the bullshit. We’re sure the prospect of giving ladies who were STARS OF THE MOVIE the same royalties as Bradley Cooper and Christian Bale is as weary as giving up your seat for a grandma, but there shouldn’t need to be an alert that tells you it might be a problem to underpay these actresses. The percentage points should have been equal to begin with. It is shocking that there needs to be an e-mail to prompt these people to weigh the pros and cons of taking gender equality for a spin.
This leak, even though it’s disheartening and another wrongful invasion of Lawrence’s privacy, deserves our attention. It’s stupid easy for Jennifer Lawrence to be hacked for the wrong reasons, but this forces us to look at the issue of the gender gap facing women even at the level of entertainment’s most successful women. This is in no way the solution that will promote progress, but it shows us even a woman running shit in Hollywood is still treated unfairly, and it’s unacceptable.
Reprinted with permission from Styliete.