Why Did Michelle Williams Get Paid in Goodwill While Mark Wahlberg Cashed In?
When Ridley Scott chose to reshoot Kevin Spacey’s scenes in All the Money in the World with Christopher Plummer, the accepted, righteous narrative was that everyone in the cast and crew were happy to help, mostly working for free to get it done in time.
Hurray for Hollywood coming together!
Only, that narrative—which seemed to be an example of how quickly and efficiently change can come when people want it to—now has a sad, ironic twist. It’s not only a symbol of sacrifices the #MeToo movement inspired, it now also represents just how uneven pay can be between male and female co-stars. Yesterday, USA TODAY reported that, far from doing it pro bono, Mark Wahlberg managed to negotiate a $1.5 million fee for his reshoots, while Michelle Williams only took a $80 per diem. That means she got paid less than $1,000 in total.
Now, women routinely get paid less than men for equal work, but it’s a little more nuanced. Clearly, producers didn’t offer Mark Wahlberg that amount unprompted. His people fought for it. Which makes the fact that Williams and Wahlberg both employ the same agency look even worse. (Though, these agencies are massive. It’s like assuming anyone on the 1992 Chicago Bulls was as good as Michael Jordan).
The takeaway we get is that Wahlberg comes out of this story looking like a shrewd business man (and kind of an asshole), while Williams just looks like a fool. Yet, if the gender roles were reversed, Williams would only seem difficult and arrogant, and Wahlberg would seem selfless. We hear over and over, that one reason women get paid less than men is because they aren’t as willing to fight for more. Whereas men, always confident in their indispensability, will make deals deals deals! Ambition, according to all those dummies who voted for Trump because they were put off by Hillary, is not a socially accepted look for women.
Clearly these reshoots were important from a moral standpoint. They offered a corrective to sexist, or predatory behaviour that had been overlooked for too long. The reshoots were the Right Thing to do. So why was doing the right thing enough for Williams (and the crew, and the director) but not enough for Wahlberg? It’s like a neighbourhood coming together to build a home for a family that lost theirs in the fire, but before volunteering, one dude—probably the dude with the truck—insists on being paid.
Basically, Mark Wahlberg got paid $1.5 million for a dick move. Michelle Williams, a person with evident empathy, basically got paid in good feelings. The sexism is in the fact that we built a society where the social pressure to do the right thing doesn’t apply to men.