Netflix! Another Day, Another Controversy. The Crown has been threatened. Gender Pay Inequality vs. Qualification

the crown

Kofi Agyemang                                                                                                          03/27/18

          For all the great content the popular streaming service provides us, Netflix can seem to stay away from controversy related to their shows or behind the scene business dealings. Earlier this month it was revealed that Claire Foy the leading lady portraying Queen Elizabeth II on the Netflix Original “The Crown” was getting paid less than her male counterpart Matt Smith for his supporting role of Prince Phillip. With this revelation, chaos ensued, feminist were enraged, and social media went to work. But do you think the uproar was warranted? Let’s Discuss!

         At first look you would say it was bullocks that Claire Foy, the lady literally on the front of every promotional poster for The Crown and on which her character Queen Elizabeth II is the basis for the show wouldn’t be the highest paid actor on the show. But some have come to the defense of co-star Matt Smith, who was previously known for his work on the hit UK series Doctor Who. While Claire Foy on the other hand was not well known before the Crown. Due to this, some argue that this isn’t a fight regarding gender pay inequality but rather resume, credentials and negations behind the scenes.

           Mid-March there was a petition for Matt Smith to donate the difference in his pay with Claire Foy to the #TimesUp Legal Defense Fund, reaching 30,000 supporters. The petitions states “You know gender pay gaps are a problem when even the Queen isn’t paid fairly,” the petition quips before taking a serious tone: “Women in all industries are facing a struggle for pay equality”. Nothing has come of the petition yet, but it does raise the issue of fairness. Should Smith have to give away his money? Should Claire Foy’s manager have negotiated better? Whose to blame? Whose will have to bear the cost for this controversy?

          A few days ago, Claire Foy finally addressed the issue stating she wasn’t surprised by how the pay gap became and remained headline news throughout the month. Foy states in an interview with Entertainment Weekly “But I’m not [surprised about the interest in the story] in the sense that it was a female-led drama. I’m not surprised that people saw [the story] and went, ‘Oh, that’s a bit odd.’”. As of now developments are still being made & only time will tell what comes of this attention to gender & pay.

           My thoughts on the matter fall within middle-ground. On one hand I do believe that it was fair that Smith got paid more due to his previous work on the hit series Doctor Who. But on the other hand, since Foy was the leading lady of this show she too should have got a substantial pay amount. But interestingly enough actors & possibly others in the work force commonly don’t know what their co-workers are getting paid, so it is hard to negotiate for equal pay if you don’t know beforehand that your possible male counterpart is getting paid more. For Claire Foy at least, The Crown can be the show on her resume, that for her next acting job leads to a high payday because now she too has the credentials that warrants higher pay in some instances.

             Before I bid you farewell, in reference to my article on actress & comedian Monique a few weeks back it is interesting that she was in a similar situation. Where this situation was solely based on gender, Monique’s was possibly gender & race. Do you think due to this it was harder for her to gain the support & media attention regarding pay than Foy? We know in the past there has been court cases in which black women haven’t been able to argue discrimination on both fronts due to one reason or another; so it is interesting to compare the two situations.

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