Forget Best Picture, Lady Gaga or Neil Patrick Harris and his endless magic box gag. What everyone was talking about after this Sunday’s Academy Awards broadcast was Patricia Arquette’s acceptance speech for her Best Supporting Actress Oscar for “Boyhood.”
She said, “To every woman who gave birth to every tax payer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”
Sing it, sister! (I actually yelled that out loud in my den. Totally freaked out the cats.) Of course, as soon as the broadcast was done, people started bitching about the fact that, once again, an actor is using this platform to discuss politics. There is a long history of this, of course. Heck, it happened four times in this broadcast alone, from staying weird to the statistics of incarceration of African American men to immigration reform. We’ve heard it from Michael Moore, Sally Field and Marlon Brando. The thing is, she’s right. Also, this isn’t exactly something that most of the country is split over. It’s not religion. It’s not reproductive rights. Equal work for equal pay — is there really a logical way to argue against that?
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It totally makes sense to present this to a group of Hollywood elite and the public at large. Women make 82.5 cents on the dollar in this country. They make 85 cents on the dollar in Hollywood. We’re underrepresented in directing, tech and production. As someone who was formerly a makeup artist, I can tell you that there are a lot of women in makeup sales and private client work, but when you get to the film industry, it’s mostly men.
Pretty much everything is skewed over here in Hollywood, including which actors get more work. According to Dr. Stacy Smith at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, there is one female speaking character for every three males in G, PG and PG-13 films. In crowd scenes (for the same films) females make up only 17 percent.
I’ve rarely been in a crowd that was the skewed toward men — not even Comic-Con, which has more and more women attending each year. (The only drawback is that I now have to wait in line for the bathroom. In costume.) Women make up 51 percent of the population. We’re not a “niche” audience. We outnumber you!
We deserve equal pay for equal work. We deserve to see ourselves represented on film in a realistic way. However, no one is just going to give it to us. They certainly haven’t yet! We have to ask for it. If something isn’t going right and no one is fixing it, we have to shout about it, write about it, post about it and preach it from the Oscar stage. Patricia Arquette, you say anything you want! Fight on! Hey, you certainly impressed Meryl Streep!