Lady Problems is a weekly column that looks at how the entertainment industry — and its corresponding culture and constituents — is treating women in a given week. (Hint: It will almost always be “poorly.”) Every Thursday we’ll review the week's most significant woman-centric conflicts, then provide a brilliant solution to each problem that nobody in Hollywood will ever listen to or enforce.
The Lady Problem: Sean Lennon, progeny of Yoko Ono and John Lennon and self-described “bad-ass science groupie, musician, antediluvian,” has taken up the imaginary cause embraced by many equally mediocre men before him: misandry. More specifically, Lennon decided to bravely speak up about the term “mansplaining,” which is a portmanteau coined by writer Rebecca Solnit to explain that thing where men patronizingly explain things to you that you already know or, in Solnit's case, wrote an entire book about.
I cannot account for Lennon’s comma usage here, but as for why he picked this particular term and this particular day and this particular Year Of Our Lord to die on this particular, pointless hill: As The Cut reports, it all began when Elizabeth le Fey, a.k.a. Globelamp, called for people to boycott the Desert Daze festival, where the band Foxygen is scheduled to perform. Le Fey, who used to be in the band, alleges that its current lead singer, Sam France, physically abused her, and has posted Instagram photos of her bruised face as proof; as The Cut writes, “The band’s history with le Fey is messy and complicated, and it includes ‘a 32-page restraining order that prohibited [le Fey] from encountering France’s entire family, both parents and siblings, until January 22, 2019.’”
According to le Fey, Lennon, whose friend runs the Desert Daze festival, messaged her privately to dissuade her from her campaign. When le Fey called him out for doing so, Lennon tweeted (and deleted), “I know that if Jimi Hendrix had slapped his GF boycotting all Woodstock would be ridiculous!” The two then took to their respective Instagrams to continue the argument; somewhere along the line, somebody accused Lennon of mansplaining, and he took to Twitter to mansplain it, and here we are, three paragraphs in, slowly drowning in irony.
The Solution: Sean Lennon should be ordered to chop down a tree at the behest of Marisa Tomei’s parents. The Tomeis will refer to him as “arrogant” and “absurd” in their court filings. The judge will conclude her ruling by quoting the Beatles song “Strawberry Fields Forever”: “No one I think is in my tree / I mean it must be high or low.” She will misattribute this song to Paul McCarthy.
The Lady Problem: Vanity Fair’s Julie Miller wrote a bleak piece this week that opens with an exclusive excerpt from the dystopian YA novel that is the United States of America in 2016:
A beautiful young actress appeared on the competition jury at a film festival within the past year, helping to select the week’s best films. Although she could have been using the experience to fulfill her civic duty within the film community, catch the latest titles, or mingle with up-and-coming directors, the starlet was there for another reason entirely. Having starred in blockbuster hits of the ’90s and early aughts, the actress was now, according to a friend, having a hard time finding lucrative acting work for herself — with the industry’s handful of franchise heroine roles and female superheroes already accounted for. Hollywood’s Regurgitation Era has shrunk the movie-star middle class by doubling down on spin-offs and reboots and nearly eradicating the medium-budgeted titles of yesteryear — which means the actors who are not part of major-studio movie events often must make due with indies or look elsewhere for income. So at the festival, this actress’s prime motivation was to drum up publicity for herself, in hopes of nabbing one of the best-paying roles left for women in Hollywood: a fashion or fragrance campaign.
Miller posits that, because of the egregious wage gap that trickles all the way from Hollywood down to the bottom of the ocean, where mermaids make 10 piles of wet sand to a merman’s 25, actresses are prostrating themselves before the altar of #endorsements just to keep up with their male counterparts. Miller confirms her theory with Forbes’s Natalie Robehmed, who recently ranked 2016’s highest-paid celebrities. Robehmed explains that “women in Hollywood, even at the very top, are still being paid a lot less than their male counterparts” and posits that “they’re sort of making up for their [wage] shortages with these endorsements.”
When famous men endorse things, says Robehmed, it’s a watch or a car or the occasional male fragrance. Alternatively, Whoopi Goldberg is shilling medical marijuana for periods. Jamie Lee Curtis has poop yogurt. Sarah Michelle Gellar is pimping out baking supplies for kids, which is a sentence that sent a cold shiver right down my spine as I typed it. Can somebody’s kid make me a cake so I feel better?
The Solution: Listen, nobody’s weeping for poor, beautiful, rich, chocolate-smudged Sarah Michelle Gellar, or staying awake at night wondering how to free Jennifer Aniston from the Smartwater contract that dictates she scream “THANKS SMARTWATER” into a banana phone every time she climaxes. But we are weeping for the precedent set by Hollywood, because if our nation’s most cherished export (Hot Famous Females) cannot even receive an equally exorbitant amount of money as our nation’s third-most-cherished export (Hot Famous Men, right behind high-fructose corn syrup), then what chance do we mere non-hot, non-corn-syrup-filled mortals have?
So how do we fix this? First, all famous women must learn the recipe for high-fructose corn syrup, which I hear is very complex but not impossible. Once they’ve mastered this, they must learn to inject it directly into their veins. Those who are able to figure out how to survive this process (IDK how, but let me know if you figure it out) will march into the highest office in Hollywood and demand a pay raise. Wiping away the droplets of radioactive syrup falling from their ears, their eyes crusted over with corn starch, their flesh weeping glucoamylase, they’ll explain that they are now invaluable assets to both the film industry and the children’s cereal industry. Nobody will be able to argue with this, not even Harvey Weinstein, who once famously said, “If anyone ever offers me a Cocoa Puff, I will destroy them.” All of the money that was previously funneled toward building Michael Bay a treehouse in the shape of Megan Fox’s left breast will go to the likes of Whoopi Goldberg and Sarah Michelle Gellar and Jessica Biel, but not Jessica Alba, because that’s too many Jessicas and she is doing great.
The rest of us not-famous women will just continue to be poor, albeit with healthy triglyceride levels.
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