After a week where Hollywood’s women took to the stage to say enough is enough on the issues of gender inequality in the workplace, of sexual harassment and assault, and the intolerance experienced by millions from all backgrounds, Mark Wahlberg brought #TimesUp to a temporary pause. It was revealed that the reshoots for All The Money In The World – reshoots needed after the replacement of Kevin Spacey from the completed film by Christopher Plummer – filled Wahlberg’s pockets with $1.5m while the leading actor, Michelle Williams, was awarded around $80 a day in expenses.
Since the revelation, Mr. Wahlberg has donated his fee to Times Up in Williams’ name, and released the following statement:
— Mark Wahlberg (@mark_wahlberg) January 13, 2018
Most of the blame has been put on William Morris Endeavor, the agency which represents both Williams and Wahlberg, for negotiating the one-sided deal; they have since donated a further $500,000 on top of the $1million they had pledged separately.
While Williams has seemingly moved on, expressing her thanks to the agency and Wahlberg in a statement, there are many who have taken the story differently:
Let’s break this whole thing down to the critical points:
- Wahlberg had the right to negotiate his compensation to the outcome. That is his right. No one is discrediting him for getting a good deal for himself. It is only an issue if he ensured Williams earned less. There is no reason to believe he did so it is not a factor. WME however would have been privy to both compensation packages and failed to represent both equally.
- No one demanded (at least not realistically) that Wahlberg should return the money, give it to Williams or anything of the sort. He offered to because of (a) the publicity backlash – you cannot claim him to be a savvy publicist, then ignore the current industry mood – and (b) he probably felt it was the right thing to do.
- Williams did not come out and say she was screwed over by the agency or the studios. This whole story is serving as another typical story of pay gaps in industries between male and female employees. The fact it goes across every industry, which seems to be lost on many of these antagonists, shows it is systemic sexism, and the misogynistic defense of that sexism has only solidified this.
- “Williams didn’t negotiate well enough” – once again puts the onus solely on women and not the employer or system. Women have been brought up in a culture where they are not allowed to make demands, otherwise they are “difficult”, a label which impacts their future earnings. Men of color have similar issues when finalizing contracts, so unless someone is suggesting people of color and women of all colors are unable to negotiate well, let’s just assume there are systemic problems.
- “The advertising focused on him” – watch both pre and post-Spacey trailers and you’ll know this isn’t true. The former centers on Spacey as a villain, and Williams as the central protagonist with Wahlberg as a cool supporting part. The latter does indeed flip more to Wahlberg but maintains Williams at the center.
- Williams is the lead in the movie. If she wasn’t Wahlberg would have been listed above her (the and in the credits signifies an important, albeit supporting role). To say he carried the plot defies critics; at the Golden Globes Williams was nominated for Best Actress while Plummer received a nod for Best Supporting Actor, nominated without Wahlberg.
- People seem to want to get economical. OK – yes, Wahlberg has a more recognizable name and brand. However, his is the smaller part. Now, I can’t remember, but shouldn’t capitalism reflect more work equals more pay?
- While we’re on the topic of money, the box office difference of the last five wide-releases for both Williams and Wahlberg is $20million – not hundreds of millions like some have shouted about (Williams, $435m; Wahlberg, $455m – figures courtesy of Box Office Mojo). To say Williams isn’t bankable means the same for Wahlberg.
But pushing the conversation like this misses the point: Wahlberg was paid 1500 times more than Williams for the reshoots, for which both actors were needed. Whether or not Wahlberg is deemed a bigger brand, he doesn’t pull in 1500 times more in audience numbers, nor in box office returns than Williams, nor is he as talented an actor nor is he as critically acclaimed (award wins/nominations: Williams 39/131; Wahlberg 20/65).
That is the issue.
And then there’s this:
So let’s summarize.
Leading Actress in a well publicized movie which had to have significant reshoots in a short period was paid less than Supporting Actor with a well known name.
Well, that’s sound logic. Go on…
Supporting Actor with well known name voluntarily donates the money to a cause represented in part by Leading Actress which fights legal suits on behalf of millions of women suffering all kinds of injustices while at work, who don’t have the same platform as celebrity personalities. Misogynists online lose their shit and label women as insecure, weak and helpless without men, who pathetically need their male colleagues to fight their battles for them, and label feminists as hateful despite all of the contrary evidence.
Fucking feminists, man. The fucking worst.