Of all the creeping, insidious and horribly unfair forms of discrimination going on in the world right now, pay inequality is still a little under the radar. After all, when instances of overt racism and xenophobia are way, way up in the wake of a presidential election, it's evidently tough for nominally less visceral forms of discrimination to get much headway in the press and wider cultural conversation. However, that doesn't mean that we don't need to be talking about them — not least because women are still routinely paid substantially less than men for equivalent work.
One of the few areas in which that topic is still very much hitting the front pages, though, is #Hollywood. It seems that widespread institutional sexism typically isn't 'sexy' enough to make the news — unless it has an A-List Hollywood actress attached to it. Which, then, makes it fairly fortunate that...
Amy Adams Just Made An Incredibly Important Point About The Pay Gap
In fact, Adams's argument points out the problematic nature of her name being the selling point of the headline above — and highlights one of the essential problems of this whole issue. Y'see, Adams (who is currently hotly tipped for an #Oscar nod for #Arrival) recently took part in a talent-thronged roundtable interview with THR, alongside the similarly Oscar-tipped likes of #NataliePortman, #EmmaStone and #TarajiPHenson. During the course of that interview, the subject of under-representation and pay disparity came up, and, unsurprisingly, #AmyAdams had something rather substantive to say:
"Who you should be asking is the Producer Roundtable: ‘Do you think minorities are underrepresented? Do you think women are underpaid?’... We are always put on the chopping block to put our opinion out there, and that question is never asked. I’m like, ‘Why don’t you ask them and then have their statements be the headlines in the press?’ I don’t want to be a headline anymore about pay equality."
Which, of course, makes a number of incredibly important points, including the fact that...
Actresses Are Routinely Used To 'Sell' Stories About Serious Issues Like Pay Disparity
Take a look at the headline at the top of this article, for instance — and indeed, this whole story. In order to talk about the institutional sexism of Hollywood, it routinely requires a newsworthy — and, typically, young and ridiculously beautiful — actor or actress to speak out about it one way or the other. Few producers have any sort of widespread name recognition outside of the industry itself. If they were to be asked about the pay discrimination that they are far, far more culpable for, it would be unlikely to hit the headlines, or acquire all that many 'clicks'.
So, Adams is stuck in a situation in which she's being comparatively underpaid for her labor (of course, thanks to being an actor, she's still proportionally overpaid compared to most of the country) and forced to be a spokesperson for an issue that she herself hasn't created. As she put it, it's her head that's being "put on the chopping block", not those people — i.e. producers and studio executives — who can actually do a whole lot more about it in the short term.
Is That A Legitimate Position To Take, Though?
Many might argue that Adams is essentially ducking from a battle that we all need to help fight. If, by being "a headline about pay inequality", she is directly helping to change attitudes about pay discrimination, is it fair for her to opt out, even in the face of a prominence she very much didn't sign up for?
Well, yes, of course it is. None of us should be forced to take part in direct social action that we don't feel comfortable with — especially when, as Adams is, we're in a position where folks with obvious interest in maintaining the status quo might be tempted to make an example of her. That being said, though, it's still a problematic position - one that essentially puts the onus on others (like, say, #JenniferLawrence, #EmmaWatson and Emma Stone) to fight a battle that will, eventually, directly benefit Adams as well.
The flip side of that, of course, is that it's entirely possible that Adams is currently fighting that particular battle all the damn time. She might be arguing with producers and executives for higher pay, pointing out that they themselves should be doing more, and — especially in the case of prominent male figures — speaking out about the inherent unfairness of pay inequality. Similarly, it's important not to take the responsibility off of the shoulders of the rest of us. Much as articles like this shouldn't have to wait for Amy Adams to say something 'clickable' in order to be written, they also shouldn't have to have Amy Adams's name attached to them in order to be clicked upon and read. That, though, seems to be both the situation we currently find ourselves in, and the problem that we all need to help to solve.
Read more about where other celebs stand on the equal pay issue...
- Jeremy Renner Weighs Into the Debate About the Gender Pay Gap in Hollywood
- Jennifer Lawrence Tackles the Hollywood Pay Gap Head-On in Gender Equality Essay
- Bradley Cooper Advocates Equal Pay in Hollywood After Jennifer Lawrence's Inequality Letter
Fixing a broken system isn't going to be easy, but it'll be a hell of a lot easier if we all work on it together. And, perhaps, as Adams suggests, ask a few (hundred) more producers and studio executives why they aren't paying women an equal wage for equal work...
In the meantime, what do you reckon? What should we all be doing to combat pay inequality in Hollywood - and other forms of discrimination, for that matter? Let us know below!