Kristen Stewart on diversity and gender equality
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As expected, since the #OscarsSoWhite situation has dominated the entertainment landscape the last couple of weeks, the question is being asked of celebrities at Sundance. Here are Kristen Stewart’s thoughts on diversity in the industry:
Nothing controversial there – an acknowledgement, a direction change, and then a quick exit.
The other prominent issue on the table for the industry, though, and it has been for months, is gender equality and the gender pay gap. Given that Kristen is at the festival promoting a film called Certain Women the question was understandable. Here’s video of her response and the text of it underneath if you don’t want to watch:
“It’s hard for me to speak to that because it’s awkward. I’m so f-cking lucky and so stimulated and driven, like not bored and I have something in front of me all the time, so it sounds weird for me to sit around and be like, ‘It’s not fair!’ It’s like, well, guys make more money, because their movies make more money. It’s like, let’s start making…. It makes sense. Like, if you’re bored or if you feel like there’s a lack of something in front of you…. It’s silly for me to say but, ‘Go do something.’ My mom’s an artist, she’s like a painter, she’s a script supervisor as well. So, like, when she wasn’t working she was making something. She was never bored. Instead of sitting around and complaining about that, do something, go write something, go do something for yourself. You know what I mean? And that’s easy to say, like f-ck, it’s hard to get movies made. It’s a huge luxury. Who gets to just make movies? That subject is so prevalently everywhere right now and it’s boring.”
It was a good start, to acknowledge her privilege. And then…
“Go do something.”
See, that’s exactly why we’ve not yet achieved gender equality. Because women are DOing something. The problem is that what we DO is only valued at half and/or we have to DO double to get paid the same. Ask Gillian Anderson.
The DOing is not the issue. Women DO. They DO a lot. Who are these people, sitting around complaining and bored DOing jack sh-t?
But that’s the bootstrap philosophy isn’t it? To me, what Kristen Stewart just gave us was the American Dream: that opportunity is available to anyone who works hard enough to seize it. Which is also closely tied to the meritocracy theory. That those who work hard and have the talent will naturally and eventually rise to the top. And it’s bullsh-t.
Today, however, according to the recent Pew Study on the American Dream, social mobility between the lowest levels of American society and the middle class is increasingly difficult, if not impossible. Specifically, the study found that while a large number of Americans (84 percent) have a higher family income than did their parents, those born at both the top and the bottom of the “income ladder” stay where they are from one generation to the next. What that means is that those who begin life wealthy pass that wealth, but those born at the bottom—in other words those who would typically be candidates for bootstrapping—are now more likely to stay there. This is particularly true for African Americans who are stuck at the bottom more than any other group and may even to fall farther behind from one generation to the next. (Source)
To go back then to “bored complainers” sitting around not writing and not making…
They’re writing. They’re making. But they also don’t have the luxury of a head start, the way, you could argue, Kristen Stewart had a head start. And we haven’t even touched on how the gender equality issue becomes more complicated when you factor in intersectional concerns.
Ava DuVernay, for example, has been very vocal about her gender inequality observations, the fact that she and Colin Trevorrow both got their starts at Sundance and she ended up directing a $20 million dollar film (Selma) and still trying to sort out her next feature while he landed Jurassic World and Star Wars Episode IX. Ava DuVernay is probably not complaining, or bored. Ava DuVernay is definitely DOing. It’s just that her DO is worth a lot less than a man’s. A white man’s. That’s why the subject is so “prevalently everywhere” and it’s also why it’s, um, maybe a really poor choice of words to call it “boring”?
Attached - Kristen Stewart at Sundance this week.