Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Hollywood's Top-Earning Actresses

Oh, Hollywood. Why do your contemporary ways always disappoint me?

These were the highest paid actresses last year. Though the numbers are down from last year, the majority of these ladies' really pushed themselves into new career paths/roles and I'm glad they were singled out. Without further ado, here are the sad, hard facts:

1. Angelina Jolie ($27 million)

2. Jennifer Aniston ($25 million)

3. Meryl Streep ($24 million)

4. Sarah Jessica Parker ($23 million)

5. Cameron Diaz ($20 million)

6. Sandra Bullock ($15 million)

7. Reese Witherspoon ($15 million)

8. Nicole Kidman ($12 million)

9. Drew Barrymore ($12 million)

10. Renee Zellweger ($10 million)

11. Cate Blanchett ($8 million)

12. Anne Hathaway ($7 million)

13. Halle Berry ($7 million)

14. Scarlett Johansson ($5.5 million)

15. Kate Winslet ($2 million)

Actresses' Grand Total: $183 million. Not bad, right? Well, last year they earned almost $245 million collectively, but that's not what my blogging gripe is this time around.

Guess what their equally talented, attractive male counterparts, cohorts, and co-stars earned in total last year? $393 million.

That is ridiculous.

Eight of these women are Academy Award winners. Each and every one of these ladies' is honored and cherished in her own way. Some of them not only act, but also manage their own clothing and perfume lines and write and direct films as well. Why, then, are they paid so much less than their male co-stars? The answer is painfully obvious and painfully out of date. Though the studio system is much kinder to the working class actress these days (in terms of allowing her to balance work, kids, and privacy), women just aren't box office draws anymore. In the last six months (correct me if I'm wrong), only three female-driven films topped the box office: Hannah Montana: the movie, Obsessed, and The Proposal. And what are those movies? Pieces of self-serving, irresponsible garbage. We gawk at Angelina Jolie for raising six kids, serving as Goodwill Ambassador, contributing to countless charities, and acting in at least one movie a year, but she does it all and she seems to do it well. So why does she earn so much less per film than her macho co-stars? Why does hasbeen Harrison Ford earn more than Meryl flurking Streep who continues to work both well and regularly? Why do audiences flock to the box office whenever someone like a bloated Tom Hanks or crazy Tom Cruise graces us with their presence? Almost all of the actors who earned their way into the list keep giving us recycled performances in redundant remakes or sequels while nearly all of the underpaid actresses are taking on daring roles and/or experimenting with their image. Frankly, I'm delighted by Drew Barrymore's next step in the director's chair with Whip It! This decade, however, is bullshit. Talented actresses like Katherine Heigl and Jennifer Garner NEED to stop appearing in simpering, one-dimensional male fantasy romcom's like The Ugly Truth and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. Women contribute to the box office success of Transformers and the like because we don't have any strong women on screen. Sex and the City proved that if you center a film on female friendship that it's possible to earn money. We don't need films like Obsessed or, undoubtedly, the new Buffy the Vampire slayer movie to falsely represent us. We need these actresses, female filmmakers and technicians, and critics to stand up and at least try and take charge of this horrifying situation by saying no to demeaning roles, writing/filming strong female characters, no matter the size of their part, and pointing out the flaws and successes when they happen. Perhaps, in ten or so years, we'll have better roles for women of all ages, colors, and sexual orientation and better paychecks if we keep that in mind now.


Fireblossom said...

I don't recall when the movies available at theaters were so completely skewed towards males. While I'm more interested in something like "House Of Sand And Fog", or "Rachel Getting Married" than "Sex In The City", I can see why ANYthing that's for us or features a strong female part is like water in the freaking desert.

While a couple of the names on your list make me spontaneously barf (Jennifer Aniston is uber famous for...what, again, exactly? And Sandra Bullock, would you PLEASE retire that Cute Klutz Next Door schtick?), the point is taken. Women are pointedly undervalued in our society. Sorry to be the one to break this shocker.

PS--I used to hate Cameron Diaz for just being the bosomy blonde (yawn, aNOTHer one?), but I think, starting with "Being John Malkovich" and on through "In Her Shoes", and several others, that she is has really shown what she can do on camera, and I've become a big fan. Can I have her autograph? God. She's so neat. Oops, did I just gush?

Marian Shaghoury said...

Well, I think just like any change that happens, it's due to persistence and resilience.

I also feel that stars in hollywood ( those who's acting roles contribute to the sexism) live in their bubble where they don't really understand the impact of movies and are just talented actresses. Could that be possible?


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