Mo’nique, you may have a point. But no one is boycotting, Netflix. Sorry

monique

Kofi Agyemang                                                                                                          02/22/18

If you haven’t heard, recently Mo’nique, as pictured above in the film, Precious recently asked for a boycott of the popular streaming service Netflix. Before delving into her argument against Netflix let me introduce Mo’nique to those who may not be familiar with her.

Mo’nique is an African-American comedian and actress who first gained fame for her role as Nikki Parker on the popular series the Parkers while also making a name for herself as a standup comedian at a variety of popular venues, including Showtime at the Apollo. Mo’nique later transitioned into films with movies like Phat Girls, Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins, Almost Christmas and Precious, which she won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2009. In 2015 she also received rave reviews for her performance as Ma Rainey in the HBO biopic Bessie, earning her a Primetime Emmy Award nomination. I say all of this to say that in my opinion Mo’nique has done well for herself in the entertainment industry, not only as a women but also as an African-American women. Unfortunately my mention of her being an African American women is wherein the alleged problem that has led to this blog entry lies.

At the start of this year Mo’nique asked us, the John Q public to boycott the popular movie and TV streaming service, Netflix due to gender & racial discrimination. Mo’nique shared that she was in the business negotiation stage with Netflix to film a standup comedy special for the streaming service, but when it came time for the check they only offered her a mere $500,000. In her eyes this didn’t seem right when other comedians like Chris Rock & Dave Chappelle were getting paid 20 million dollars and Amy Schumer 13 million dollars for recent comedy specials with Netflix. You can watch Mo’nique’s full initial boycott video plea below.

Mo’nique asks for a boycott of the popular streaming service, Netflix due to gender and color bias.   

As stated in the video Mo’nique asks for the boycott due to “gender bias & color bias”. Now here is where things get tricky for us as the public when trying to determine if Mo’nique’s argument has merit or if the reason for that pay amount is unrelated. Comedians Chris Rock & Dave Chappelle, though both African American are male, while Amy Schumer, though female is White. Mo’nique on the other hand is an African-American Female, who due to her race and gender can be seen as having “multiple disadvantages”.

The theory of intersectionality was popularized by legal scholar and black feminist Kimberley Crenshaw who defined it as “the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.” Mo’nique’s argument of gender & racial bias against her as an African-American women directly coincides with intersectionality and what Kimberley Crenshaw often reiterates about black women’s plight.

Black women’s challenges can only be seen in regards to black men or white women but can’t stand alone because it doesn’t represent the majority of people. If the examples didn’t include Amy Schumer, than some would say it was gender discrimination and the feminist who stand with Mo’nique. If the examples didn’t include Chris Rock & Dave Chappelle, than some would say it was racial discrimination and the supporters of racial equality would stand with Mo’nique. But due to the fact that it could possibly be both racial & gender discrimination it leaves us as a society perplexed as to what do to in this situation. This single analysis used to interpret and judge black women’s problems puts them at a severe disadvantaged leaving their problems unsolved and allowing those causing the issues to continue to discriminate without repercussions.

Now, I personally due agree that race & gender did come into play in Mo’nique’s situation. I definitely don’t think 500,000 was a fair amount for her to be paid with her credentials and resume. But there are those who disagree with me and believe that the reason she received that pay was due to her irrelevancy to today’s society in comparison to those she compared herself to.

The battle still rages on, as people from all aspects of the entertainment industry & the public takes sides, whether supporting Mo’nique or arguing against her claims. Mo’nique has been making her rounds on popular shows like The View, The Breakfast Club and other news outlets to voice her argument against Netflix. Whether this will prove to have any impact for her or to the future African-American females coming after her, who she says is who she is fighting for, we will just have to wait and see.

1 Comment

  1. Hi Kofi,

    I like your application of Kimberle Crenshaw’s theory of intersectionality to Mo’nique’s situation. In a society that only recently is coming to terms with the multidimensional analysis of oppression, your post foregrounds the fact that identity categories like race *and* gender can combine to oppress an individual in unique ways. With respect to your point about Mo’nique’s relevance potentially impacting her pay, I think you have a point. That said, though, I would qualify this point by noting that Mo’nique’s potentially lower-relevance does not preclude “misogynoir” from affecting the amount she was offered. It is likely that both Mo’nique’s lower-relevance *and* Netflix’s bias against black women resulted in the lower amount she was offered. After all, Wanda Sykes’ similar treatment during negotiations suggests that Netflix has a pre-existing, institutional bias against black women.

    Like

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