Cheap Actresses: The Shame of it All.
A person I had a conversation with, who hadn’t read The Game of Thrones books and only watched a few episodes of the T.V. series said the if he “wanted to watch cheap women topless, he had his own ways he would use.” This raised my Eyre. He was using the word cheap in a derogatory way towards the actress’s work because they were not dressed in a manner deemed respectable. Not knowing the story-lines and the way the women’s costume were used in the story, he considered the topless women as tawdry and base. Being a GoT reader and watcher, I knew that the nudity was part and parcel of the story-lines but even if it wasn’t I still would have done what I did next. I literally stood up to him and told him that the girls “weren’t cheap. They were paid actresses. Therefore they couldn’t be cheap.” I could go on with about the moral standard the puritans’ gave our country as far as male and female nudity and point out that there are many more men running around the show topless than women, but that is not what my brain went to later in the day. My mind went to the other meaning of cheap; inexpensive, economy, low-cost, bargain, discounted. With this meaning, my words didn’t work out quite accurate. To put it simply, women, even the most famous actresses are underpaid when compared to their male counterparts.
In June of 2015, Jennifer Lawrence was reported as the world’s highest paid actress, made $52 million. The highest paid actor, Robert Downey Jr., made $80 million. Lawrence made 35 % less than Downey, Jr. You may be able to argue a little in Downey’s favor due to the age/experience difference, but in the world of acting, seniority doesn’t mean a thing. Box office pull does. Lawrence got a surprise along co-star Amy Adams in American Hustle thanks to a Wikileaks leak. The two female actresses found out while they received 7% of the films profits while the male leads, Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale and Jeremy Renner got 9%.
While Lawrence may have had a smaller role than her male counterparts, back-end compensation is typically awarded based on star power and gravitas, which Lawrence possesses on par with Bale and Renner. (Forbes)
When hiring Meryl Streep to be in the movie The Devil Wears Prada, she was insulted by the salary offer and initially turned the part down. When they doubled the offer, she took the part of Miranda Priestly. She had already two of the three Oscars she has now, and ended up nominated for the role.
The Game of Thrones production company does a better job than most in the equitable salary for actors of both sexes. Using a tiered system Kit Harington, Emilia Clark, Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau are the highest paid being the lead actors in the series. Unfortunately, as the series has progressed, there are actors that company should consider a raise in tiers such as Sophie Turner, and Maisie Williams, who are having much more screen time than in past seasons.
The artistic community has always been thought of as being more compassionate and free-thinking than people in other professions. They transcend the norm. It is one of the reasons why actors and actresses are asked or volunteer to help so many causes. Also, that is why actresses can freely decide to take a part that they may be shirtless if the story calls for it. Yes, a duh, there are people out there who may try to take advantage of a woman by forcing nudity on them to get cast in a part; I’m not saying there aren’t which still doesn’t make the topless actresses cheap. What I am saying, for a community that is known for being compassionate and free-thinking as the artist community to have such a discriminatory pay scale due to the sex of the actor is shameful. If women in performance arts cannot get equal pay for equal work, what chance do the rest of us have?
Berg, Madeline. “Everything You Need To Know About The Hollywood Pay Gap.” Forbes.com, 12 Nov. 2015. Web. 25 July 2016
Regalado, Michelle. “‘Game of Thrones’ : The Show’s 5 Highest Paid Actors.” Cheatsheet.com,12 July 2016. Web. 25 July 2016.
Mei,Gina. “7 Things You Never Knew About The Devil Wears Prada. Cosmopolitan.com, 24 June 2016 Web. 25 July 2016
Meryl Streep imdb.com, 2016. Web. 25 July 2016