The Mark Wahlberg/Michelle Williams Pay Gap Nontroversy Is Why The Media Sucks


You may have heard of a recent controversy regarding the movie All The Money In The World. No, not the fact that one of its stars, sexual harasser Kevin Spacey, was cut out of the film and replaced with another possible sexual harasser, Christopher Plummer, in reshoots. (Man, it’s really hard to keep track of all the deviants in Hollywood, isn’t it?)

No, this new “controversy” involves how much the actors were paid for the reshoots. Mark Wahlberg was apparently paid a cool $1.5 million on top of what he had already been paid to go back and reshoot the scenes, while his costar, Michelle Williams, was paid a pittance of less than $1000, which came out to about $80 per diem. The headline of this story was, of course, blasted all over social media, with feminists freaking out and stating that this shows just how bad the pay gap is between men and women in this “patriarchal” country. A man getting over a million dollars, while a woman gets less than a grand for the same job?! Why, it’s just like we’re living in The Handmaid’s Tale!

Of course, only one thing was missing from all of this: any sense of context. Why did Michelle Williams make next to nothing for doing the reshoots? Because she had enthusiastically agreed to do so:

Williams previously told USA TODAY that when Scott’s team called to request her time for the reshoot, “I said I’d be wherever they needed me, whenever they needed me. And they could have my salary, they could have my holiday, whatever they wanted. Because I appreciated so much that they were making this massive effort.”

Not only her, but according to director Ridley Scott, virtually everyone who worked on the reshoots, including the men, did it for free:

RIDLEY SCOTT: “The whole reshoot was — in normal terms was expensive but not as expensive as you think. Because all of them, everyone did it for nothing.”

USA TODAY: “Really?”

SCOTT: “No, I wouldn’t get paid, I refused to get paid.”

USA TODAY: “You didn’t pay the actors more to do it?”

SCOTT: “No, they all came in free. Christopher had to get paid. But Michelle, no. Me, no. I wouldn’t do that to — ”

USA TODAY: “The crew, of course, did get paid?”

SCOTT: “Of course.”

So this was not about singling out a woman, this was about cutting a child abuser (Spacey) out of their film, something that they all agreed was worth doing, and not about the money.

So why did Wahlberg get paid $1.5 million? Because he’s a huge star and the highest-paid actor in the world, and his management team was able to negotiate the extra money for him to do the reshoots. No one else working on the film had anywhere near that kind of clout, regardless of their gender.

That’s how Hollywood stardom works. If your movies make a lot of money, you get elevated above everyone, including your co-stars. Michelle Williams is a great actress, one of the best in Hollywood (her big scene in Manchester By The Sea absolutely tore my heart out), but she’s not a box office draw who can put butts in the seats the way that, say, Sandra Bullock or Amy Adams can. She’s very talented, but she’s not a star. Wahlberg is. Gender has nothing to do with it. And with a net worth of $16 million (not bad for a woman still in her 30s), she’s doing just fine, which is why she was more than willing to do the reshoots for virtually nothing, because she could afford to make those professional choices in her own life. I thought that was what being an empowered woman was supposed to be all about.

But that’s what the media always does, isn’t it? Cherry-picks stories and releases them without context, knowing that they will feed the desired narrative. Hollywood has plenty of problems, and Lord knows they are legion. But a gender pay gap between multimillionaire celebrities is not one of them. Maybe the media should try focusing on those real problems instead of trying to perpetuate their garbage narratives with fake news. Oh, and say hi to your mother for me.

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