Salma Hayek's Solution to Hollywood Sexism Will Only Harm Women


The recently closed Cannes Film Festival was an affair filled with sour attitudes. You have a swanky celebrity affair on the French Riviera that is hyper-exclusive and generating global attention — so of course attendees were a cranky lot, with a high degree of petulance amid the festivities. Salma Hayek joined the chorus of complaints with her own solution to a problem that seems destined to only cause more.

As Jim Jamitis wrote, the people from Troma Pictures announced they were pulling out of their annual trek to the event. To go with that there was a gaggle of female celebrities who staged a staircase protest to underscore how few female directors have ever been entered in competition. Also, Kristen Stewart removed her high heels in what I read was a bold, earth-shaking stance against sexism exhibited by the festival.

I’m always struck when the entertainment complex – which never pauses to explain how horrible we are as a nation – announces inequities that are lodged within its own universe. Why would anyone listen to stern life lectures from those whose own house in not in order? A prime example is the way we always hear how the female wage disparity is a poisonous aspect of our sexist nation. Yet Hollywood cannot seem to get its own affairs to comport with its lectures to us.

Hayek however seems to have a solution at the ready. Said the actress: “The actors have to say: ‘OK, time’s up. I had a good run but now it’s also time to be generous with the actresses in the films.” Her proposal is that when a production has male actors getting paid more than the actresses, the men should take a pay cut to even out the discrepancy. This is such a typical, celebrity-inspired emotion-based “solution” you can tell there was zero pragmatism attached to this proposal.

To begin, having actors taking a pay cut does not in any fashion help the actress. All this does is install some kind of sense of “fairness”, as if that applies in the marketplace. The other issue is that the supposed wrongdoer in all of this – the producers – actually would benefit, and possibly be inspired to continue the practice in order to save money. If a big named actor will be paid less to balance out the casting salaries that only helps the production, so paying women less would become good business.

Salma’s proposal would:

  • Punish actors who did nothing wrong.
  • Reward producers who ostensibly did something wrong, and thus will be inspired to continue.
  • End up providing no benefit whatsoever to the aggrieved party – the actress.

There you have your “solution”, Ms. Hayek. In the end you will end up extending the problem you claim to be helping. Pardon me, but I will accept the risk of being called ‘toxic’ but I do not forward your cause here. And I do so in the name of helping women.

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