When General Electric’s CEO declined to accept a $12 million bonus — on top of his $3 million base pay — a friend sent me the headline and snarked, “What will he and his family live on?” My reply was, “But what would people be saying if he didn’t decline the bonus?” Damned if you do; damned if you don’t.
Yet my turn for a similar sense of schadenfreude arrived when I read this, courtesy of the New York Post’s Page Six:
Hollywood stars are starting to feel the economic pinch. “Salaries are being cut. Unless you’re Will Smith, you are not going to get $20 million a movie anymore,” said an insider. To make matters more meager, “back-end” deals — where a star or big-name director would get a cut of the gross — “are dead. Those deals are not being offered to anyone. Not [even] Steven Spielberg. It’s, ‘Here’s your salary and go home.’ There is no negotiation between stars and the movie studios anymore. The studios make an offer. If the star says no, the studio says, ‘We’ll find someone else.’”
I guess there’s a little bit of class envy in all of us. But is it really class envy in this case? While I might envy some celebrities their fame and fortune, I have no real problem with them making gazillions of dollars whilst churning out what some believe is worthless entertainment. As long as the market will bear it, they’ll make the cashola. That’s how capitalism works. Right now, the economy is in a downturn and everyone’s feeling the pinch — even über-wealthy celebrities whose livelihoods depend on how the little people are doing financially, whether they like to admit it or not.
We all have to make sacrifices. I’m not getting a raise this year either and I rather doubt Steven Spielberg feels sorry for me.
Maybe if there hadn’t been so many movies in recent years created by a bunch of fair-weather patriots that practically screamed “America sucks” and watered our culture down to the lowest common denominator, I might feel a little bit more empathy for their plight. But it’s not just the economy that’s working against them. My friend Aaron hit the nail on the head in an email on this topic:
Normally the movie industry would be blowing up right now because it’s (relatively) cheap (matinee is still 5-7 dollars) and we always hear the talking heads say that consumers like movies during hard times because they enjoy escaping from their normal lives.
I don’t think this will be the case and I don’t think star power is a big draw anymore. People just don’t like any of them anymore.
I just feel bad for all the Republican people who work on the other side of the camera in Hollywood that will be hurt because of the likes of Tim Robbins’ brilliant political insight and the marvel of Cameron Diaz and how women in this country did not get sent to rape camps in the dungeons of bible camps and mega churches after Dubya’s reelection.