Actress: You know, you Hollywood actors should all take a big pay cut

I’m not sure if this is really part of either #MeToo or #TimesUp but it’s certainly being portrayed that way. Oscar and Golden Globe nominee Salma Hayek wants to hold the male actors in her profession accountable, but it’s nothing to do with sexual assault. They make too much money and… time’s up, guys! It’s time for you to volunteer to take a pay cut so the actresses can make the same amount. (Yahoo News)

Hollywood star Salma Hayek said Sunday that male stars will have to take pay cuts if they are serious about equality for women.

The Mexican-born actress, a leading voice in the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, said highly-paid male stars would have to make sacrifices.

“It is not just the producers” who have to change if the huge pay gap is to be closed. “It is actors too,” she said.

“Time’s up. You had a good run but it is time now to be generous with the actresses,” she told a Women in Motion talk at the Cannes film festival.

Time’s up? You had a good run? Perhaps there’s some sort of translation problem between basic English and whatever they speak in Hollywood, but this really doesn’t make any sense. Does Ms. Hayek somehow believe that male actors have been conspiring with the production companies to keep actresses salaries artificially low? I understand that limited term contract work is a bit different than the pay structure you tend to find in the normal accounting office or utility company, but everyone still has to negotiate with the boss for the best salary they can get. From the sound of things, production companies were absolutely offering actresses far less money than their male counterparts in many, many cases for doing what is essentially the same job. But that doesn’t mean the actors were somehow acting evilly by taking what they could get.

This isn’t a problem for the actors to solve. It’s a problem for the producers of these movies and television shows to deal with. And upon further reflection, I’ll go you one better and just say that this is a problem for the free market to handle. Hayek goes on to provide an example of her logic, saying that if the movie’s budget is $10 million, the (male) actor has to understand that if he is making $9.7 million, it is going to be hard for equality. First of all, I don’t think you can shoot a major motion picture for $300K these days, but that’s beside the point.

Landing a big name star makes it more likely that people will see the film and possibly land some award nominations. That costs money. If they aren’t offering a similarly attractive wage for the best actresses, you need to be turning those jobs down and taking your case to the public. If they are upset enough about it they will vote with their wallets and the film will fail. The producers will eventually get the idea.

I’m happy to see Hayek getting out there and being an effective speaker against creatures like Harvey Weinstein (who allegedly threatened to break her kneecaps for spurning his overtures). She can do a lot of good on that front. But conflating the pay gap with #MeToo is going to get you into message management trouble quickly, and I think that’s what we’re seeing right here.