During last year’s Oscars, Patricia Arquette shined a bright light on the pay inequalities for women in Hollywood. I know what you’re thinking, these actresses make serious bank, it isn’t like they’re fast food workers fighting for $15 an hour. But in the year since Arquette’s best actress speech, superstar Jennifer Lawrence railed on the unreasonable pay inequalities in her films. She got royally screwed on her pay for the film American Hustle.
One would have hoped that things would have gotten better, but no. The war for pay equity continues and it turns out it was right there in my all time favorite television show. I started watching “The X-Files” in my teens and I quickly fell in love with Scully. How could you not? Scully is a strong and brave woman who was not only a scientist and a doctor but also in the FBI. Scully became such a feminist icon in the 1990’s that some say that created what’s called “The Scully Effect.” Several female science teachers began asking new students if they were curious about science or medicine because of “The X-Files” and many female students answered that they did. Scully’s feminism is a huge deal in the history of television.
When Gillian Anderson first started out on the show, she had very little experience as an actress. It made sense that she was paid less than David Duchovny, her co-star. But after three years on the show, an Emmy and Golden Globe, Gillian Anderson went back to the negotiating table to demand she be paid the same as Duchovny.
In an interview with the Daily Beast Anderson said,
I can only imagine that at the beginning, they wanted me to be the sidekick. Or that, somehow, maybe it was enough of a change just to see a woman having this kind of intellectual repartee with a man on camera, and surely the audience couldn’t deal with actually seeing them walk side by side!
I have such a knee-jerk reaction to that stuff, a very short tolerance for that shit. I don’t know how long it lasted or if it changed because I eventually said, ‘Fuck no! No!’ I don’t remember somebody saying, ‘OK, now you get to walk alongside him.’ But I imagine it had more to do with my intolerance and spunk than it being an allowance that was made.
But, who would have thought that when the show decided to do a six-episode revival, that begins this week, Anderson would have to continue that fight. Despite being a screen and stage actress doing another television series in London and miniseries after miniseries under her belt that she would only be offered half of what David Duchovny was offered for the X-Files Revival. Half. Seriously.
Even in interviews in the last few years, people have said to me, ‘I can’t believe that happened, how did you feel about it, that is insane.’ And my response always was, ‘That was then, this is now.’ And then it happened again! I don’t even know what to say about it. It is… sad. It is sad.
I’m glad that she stood up against that kind of crap this time and fought for it, but the fact that they did that at all is disgusting. If it was me I would have just turned down the entire thing and refused to negotiate out of disgust and then called the nearest reporter to explain why. Kudos to her for still wanting to do it despite the insult.
Hollywood is traditionally a liberal bastion in the country. Wealthy film and television producers, directors and stars love to give democrats money for their campaigns and support good liberal causes. How is it possible that the rest of the world to have equal pay when we can’t get it in liberal Hollywood, especially when you talk about more conservative male-dominated business worlds? Hollywood has got to start putting their money where their mouth is on liberal politics and stop treating women like second class citizens. They need to set an example for all industries that women deserve to be treated equally.
Feature image via Fox promotional press kit