The gender wage gap within the entertainment industry and beyond has been an ongoing and serious issue that's been brought to the forefront in Hollywood in recent years. Numerous celebrites have been making the effort to shine a light on the situation in several ways, and now, one director has decided to tackle the issue in a way that address both pay and race inequalities. Shiraz Higgins has decided to charge white men more than other moviegoers for the screening of his new documentary.
The Canadian filmmaker directed Building The Room, which centers around a group of up-and-coming comedians navigating their way through the entertainment world. Or as it's described in the poster's tagline: "A completely idiotic guide to putting on a comedy show and getting sued."
His documentary is expected to be screened on September 29 at the Roxy Theater in British Columbia, and Higgins had a unique plan for the ticket-pricing of the premiere: Charge white men $20 for their ticket, and women $10 in what he called a "justice-pricing" model. According to the director, the price difference was to get people talking about pay inequality.
People Weren't Happy With This Move
The internet is always on the lookout for things to criticize and analyze. Therefore, as we should have expected, the move caused quite a stir online. People on social media made sure to share their displeasure and call out Higgins on his decision:
Following the backlash, the director decided to change his ticket prices, now charging white males $15 for their ticket, and keeping the $10 price tag for women. But that didn't work either. The criticism grew, and the director received multiple death threats and racist attacks over email and Twitter.
Shortly after the heavy uproar, the Blue Bridge Theater Society (from which Higgins rented the theater) condemned the controversial move and apologized for any offense it might have caused to moviegoers:
"Neither the ticket prices nor the policies governing them have been established by us. Blue Bridge was not [...] consulted regarding these policies and, had it been, would not have agreed, nor will it ever agree, to policies that are discriminatory towards any person. Nonetheless, while we deny any responsibility for the policies established by the organizers of 'Building the Room,' we are deeply regretful for any offense that these policies may have caused any individual."
Dealing With The Aftermath Of The Situation
During an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Higgins stated he wasn't expecting the worldwide attention his plan would get, stating: "It's gone so far beyond what it was intended to be. It was never intended to be a national conversation. It's a local screening, featuring an unknown cast of comedians, from an unknown director, in an little-known city. For some reason, the national media thought it was a story that needed to be run far and wide."
While Higgins claims he never expected this kind of attention, he had initially used a fake name, Sid Mohammed, in order to protect himself from the backlash that eventually came his way.
The director went on to apologize to moviegoers, clarifying that he didn't want to scare away white audiences. However, he still defended his stance, telling CBC that he's heard about women who pay more for services like haircuts and cosmetic products. Right now, he's reportedly working on a new pricing plan, but he didn't give any details on how that would work.
It's noble of him to try pay inequality, but his ways were incredibly misguided. This was a racist act, regardless of the scale Higgins initially had in mind, and ultimately, intolerance and racism can't be battled with even more intolerance and racism. Hopefully, we can work to avoid cases like this one in the future.
How do you feel about the director planning to charge white males more than other moviegoers? Was it the right move, or do you feel it was too much? Let me know in the comments!