When it comes to Monique’s call to boycott Netflix for color and gender bias, I’m reminded of the philosophical thought experiment: If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is around, does it still make a sound?
For those of you who haven’t been following this story, I’ll summarize.
In an Instagram post, Monique asserted that Netflix (recently) offered her $500,000 for a comedy special, after providing $20 million to Dave Chapelle and Chris Rock, and $13 million to Amy Schumer for their comedy specials. Monique believes that her resume proves that she is worth more than the $500,000 offer and concluded that Netflix is guilty of color and gender bias.
To add more salt to the color-and-gender-bias wound, Wanda Sykes corroborates Monique’s assertion stating that Netflix offered her half of what they offered Monique. OUCH! When Monique asked why Netflix offered her less money, she reported that they said it was the amount is what they thought she would bring to the streaming service. To add more light to her current situation, Monique breaks down the numbers to her Instagram followers pointing out the disparity between Wanda Sykes and Monique’s collective offer of ($750,000) and Amy Schumer’s $13 million offer. She charges for the public to “make it make sense.”
So let’s look at the facts. Wanda Sykes and Monique are comedic legends. Both have been in the comedy business for a long time and are loved by many. But that is not enough to make sure a competitive edge in the entertainment market. You have to stay relevant to the fan base, and unfortunately, neither of them have done anything in the comedic circuit to substantiate their claim for more money. Amy Schumer, however, sold out Madison Square Garden and wrote a bestselling humorous memoir in 2016, which contributed to her bargaining power.
Moreover, if you look at the parties’ social media following, Amy Schumer has millions, whereas Wanda and Monique have 468k, collectively. That’s a telling sign that Amy Schumer has more viewership than Wanda and Monique.
I’m not saying that a pay inequality does not exist for African-American women because it does. Women of color are bottom feeders in this capitalist society. We have to work twice as hard and be equally resilient to get ahead in this life. However, if you are going to stake a claim of inequality and call for a boycott of our beloved Netflix, make sure you can prove that they are partaking in racial and gender bias.
With regards to comparing herself to Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock, both are comedic geniuses who bring in numbers regardless of what they’ve done lately. Sorry to say it, but they are more famous and revered than Wanda, Monique, and Amy. In many of society’s opinion, there is no contest.
It would have been interesting to see what Netflix would have offered to Tiffany Haddish, an African-American, a female comedian who gained popularity with the 2017 box office hit, Girls Trip. Haddish also wrote the best selling memoir titled, Black Unicorn and launched a 2018 North American comedy tour: She Ready! Tiffany is on fire right now! Working to make her mark on the comedy circuit.
I guess we’ll never know because Monique gave Netflix the upper hand in debunking her assertion that they are guilty of race and gender discrimination.
So, why the reference to the tree in the forest?
It’s all a matter of perception. And you know the saying, “perception is reality.” In Monique’s eyes, she is being lowballed, blackballed and eyeballed by the entertainment industry. She feels that she is deserving of more money because of her accolades. This woman won an Oscar! She is supposed to be the $20-million-dollar woman, but that isn’t the case because many people in the industry believe she let the notoriety get to her head. Did She? Maybe. Maybe not. We can neither prove or disprove that Netflix is guilty of race and gender bias. Neither can we say that what they offered her is unreasonable?
But, I commend Monique for standing up for her rights. We all can take a lesson from her in how to stand up for what you believe in regardless of what people think. That is not an easy thing to do. Too many of us are trying to play it safe the majority of the time. And end up being stepped over in our career pursuits. However, I believe that the factors described above contribute to the backlash she has received from the public. If you claim a boycott, you have to make your argument stick. It’s not enough that pay inequality exists. Monique has to prove without a reasonable doubt that it existed in this case.
Q: What are your thoughts about boycotting Netflix?