Ricky Gervais' Wage Gap Jokes Miss The Mark
Full disclosure — I was really bummed to learn that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler wouldn't be hosting the 2016 Golden Globes. But, I decided to stay positive and I really wanted to give Ricky Gervais' Golden Globes hosting a chance. Unfortunately, the show was only five minutes underway and he'd already managed to make a number of transphobic and sexist jokes that were truly cringeworthy and tasteless. When Gervais joked about the Hollywood wage gap in his Golden Globes monologue, it was a great opportunity to raise awareness about the sexism women face in the industry.
Instead, he completely missed the mark by poking fun at women who are affected by the issue. He targeted Jennifer Lawrence, who has publicly spoken out about Hollywood's wage gap, by sarcastically wondering aloud how someone could possibly manage to live off a salary of $52 million a year. The thing is, Lawrence certainly never cried poverty — she was merely pointing out the very real issue that women get paid less for doing the exact same work as men. As reported by the Hollywood Reporter, she even noted that she "didn't need" the money and she fully understands that it's "not relatable." Lawrence was clearly addressing the principle of the matter, and she deserves credit for that — she used her platform as a celebrity to discuss broader societal issues, and she never asked for sympathy.
Gervais went on to say, "Of course women should be paid the same as men. And, I'm making the same amount as Tina and Amy did last year." Then he essentially blamed Fey and Poehler for not demanding more money for their hosting duties — which is quite ironic considering he'd just slammed Lawrence for taking a stand against the wage gap. Joking about the wage gap isn't inherently problematic — but the clear issue here is that Gervais chose to directly target certain women. Instead, he should have taken the opportunity to poke fun at the industry leaders who are responsible for paying women less than their male peers.
Everyone knows that successful actresses like Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Jennifer Lawrence are certainly not wanting for money. But, regardless of a woman's profession, she deserves to be compensated fairly. Celebrities have a platform to speak out about sexism in general, and it's insulting to assume that women like Lawrence are merely being self-pitying when they call out the unfairness of the wage gap. Gervais had a great opportunity to be an ally to all women workers — but he totally missed the mark and it was both disappointing and insulting.