It is a truth universally acknowledged that Chris Pratt is the worst Hollywood Chris. Most recently entered into evidence was his Instagram story about how The Terminal List, his thoroughly joyless and mediocre Amazon Prime military-porn series, “defied woke critics’ scathing reviews” to become a hit.


First of all, I HATE that the standard for streaming “ratings” is apparently minutes viewed, because it is deliberately inflationary. Don’t tell me how many minutes of your hour-long drama people watched, tell me how many people COMPLETED the full series/season. Second of all, Pratt was backed up (on Fox News) by The Terminal List’s creator, former Navy SEAL Jack Carr, who also said the show was popular because “there’s not this woke stuff that’s shoved into it" and that the show was targeted because “it doesn’t promote critics’ agendas” and they “didn’t make it for critics”

Third of all, critics don’t have “agendas” beyond wanting everything to be good, and fourth of all, no one is making art for critics! People just make stuff and then critics do interpretive feelings about it. Consider this your semi-annual reminder that “woke” has lost any and all meaning and is just a dog-whistle for “not centered on a straight white male” just like when people use “female” to describe someone what they really mean is “bitch”. 

And FIFTH of all, I started The Terminal List out of love for Taylor Kitsch, who co-stars in the series, but could not finish it because it IS right-wing pro-military propaganda, in that a good guy with a (big) gun is the solution to all the world’s ills. Not even for Taylor Kitsch could I finish it. The shows political messaging is not in characters talking directly about political issues or saying the words “left-wing” and “right-wing”, it’s in the presentation of a world view that reduces Muslim men to cartoonish villains and earnestly believes letting a (white) man do a bunch of murders is the best way to seek justice. It’s much like Top Gun: Maverick, the propaganda lies in not questioning the status quo, and worse, positing the world will always be like this, and thus we must live in a perpetual state of war.


ANYWAY, I’m here to tell you Chris Pratt isn’t totally terrible. Because he isn’t, really, and this is what makes him such a complicated and divisive figure in contemporary Hollywood. This year saw the release of Jurassic World: Dominion, the “last” of the Jurassic franchise that was revived in 2015 with Jurassic World. Pratt stars in those films alongside Bryce Dallas Howard, who recently said in an interview that she was paid “so much less” than Pratt for their three films together. In 2018, it was revealed Howard made $8 million to Pratt’s $10 million for the second film, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. And I KNOW those are huge sums of money and this entire conversation is predicated on a millionaire making slightly less millions, but that is a separate conversation to the one we’re having about gendered pay equity.

Howard, however, says she was paid “so much less than the reports even said”, and called 2014 “a different world” and said she was “at a great disadvantage”. For some context, in 2014, Jurassic World began principal photography in April, about three months before Pratt was launched onto the A-list with the success of Guardians of the Galaxy that August. Up until then, Pratt was best known for The LEGO Movie and as “Andy from Parks & Rec”, though he regularly had supporting roles in films like Moneyball, Zero Dark Thirty, and Her. He was not, however, a household name, he was thoroughly “that guy”. Howard, meanwhile, was best known as “that girl” from a couple of M. Night Shyamalan’s least-popular films, The Help, and the new Victoria in The Twlight Saga. Like Pratt, she was not a household name but was working steadily in high-profile films. 


Let’s be clear, then, about the disadvantage: Bryce Dallas Howard was a woman in an industry (world) that does not value the industry or labor of women. People can and will make every excuse to justify Pratt making more than Howard on a film series in which they were the co-leads, but the simple fact is, in 2014, they were on similar footing within the industry. There was zero reason, based on their respective resumés, to pay Howard less than Pratt, except that it was (and still is) industry standard to pay women less, full stop.

Pratt, however, stood up for Howard and leveraged his burgeoning power within the industry to get her equitable deals on their ancillary Jurassic gigs, such as “appearing” in video games and theme park rides. As Howard says, he couldn’t do anything about their film salaries because those were three-picture deals, and she was stuck with what she got in 2014. But once Howard discussed the issue with Pratt, he stepped up and told her, You guys don't even have to do anything. I'm gonna do all the negotiating. We're gonna be paid the same, and you don't have to think about this.”


That’s good! More men should do this! The system is still tilted in your favor, dudes, and if you have a chance to leverage that on behalf of your female colleagues, do it! Because the pay gap won’t close until men start insisting that it close. EVERYONE has to support the idea of equitable compensation, and while Pratt is still the worst Hollywood Chris, he is slightly less worse because at least he understands that. And if the worst Chris gets it, there’s really no excuse for anyone else.