In this year’s Golden Globes, host Ricky Gervais attempted to put Hollywood in its place. “If you win an award tonight, don’t use it as a platform to make a political speech,” he suggested during his opening monologue. “You’re in no position to lecture the public about anything, you know nothing about the real world. Most of you spent less time in school than Greta Thunberg.” It was funny, but many of the night’s winners still used the opportunity to lecture the world, of course.
It is an interesting concept, the need for actors who are very skilled at what they do in the entertainment industry, but possibly no formal education in marine biology, climate change science or economics, to use their platform to speak about these areas. But we do tend to listen. Maybe because the best movies draw us in with universal truths and hold a mirror to society, or maybe just because Joaquin Phoenix is hot. So if he says to leave the private jet at home if you can, I’m going to listen.
Back in the 2016 Golden Globes, Gervais also gave celebs a bit of a hard time while also highlighting the pay equity thing. “Jennifer Lawrence made the news when she demanded equal pay for women in Hollywood. And she received overwhelming support from people everywhere. There were marches on the street with nurses and factory workers saying, ‘How the hell can a 25-year-old live on $52 million?’ There were plumbers around the world going, ‘Poor girl, it’s f—ing hell.’” Gervais did go on to say the women should get the same pay as men for doing the same work, but his class context brings an interesting dynamic.
In this issue, we feature the amazingly talented Scarlett Johansson who has broken through Hollywood’s glittering glass ceiling to command $15 million for her role in Black Widow. This is equal to the pay packets that Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans command from the Marvel Universe. This is fantastic and it’s also about time. It’s also relevant because as mentioned, Hollywood is for some reason a social mirror, so this will also add to the wave of change that is starting to sweep through most industries.
There is still a way to go, but it would also be good to one day address work that isn’t part of an industry but is arguably more vital than most. Possibly more vital than fake fighting in front of a green screen. The people that take time out of paid work to raise children and to care for ill or dying family members. These tend to be women mainly but of course not always, but I’m not sure that this is a gender issue. It might not be glamorous to spend months helping a relative in palliative care. I haven’t seen any awards ceremonies for those that do. It might not put you on any rich list to take years out of your career to spend time scraping playdough out of the carpet while toilet training your children. But sometimes the most valuable things that we do have no value associated to it. They can be rewarding in their own right of course, but I think that at some point we need to come together as a society and start putting some monetary value to these things. In the meantime, don’t forget the advice of Joaquin Phoenix from his 2020 Golden Globe speech: “We don’t have to take private jets to Palm Springs for the awards…”