The Bar Still Loves Mo'Nique
Anyone who's been following this blog (in its various incarnations) knows how much I love actress and comedienne Mo'Nique. I find her brand of comedy refreshing, I love her style, her swag, her trademark giggle...I watch her movies, her stand-up, I've seen her perform live, and I love, love, love the ever-living hell out of this woman. Because I get her.
She's back in the headlines, this time asking Black people to boycott Netflix due to pay discrepancies caused by race and gender. Will I be boycotting Netflix? No. Does her presentation and framing of the problem need some tweaking? Yes. Does her husband need to be subtracted from her publicity equation and replaced with a real team? Hells, yes. Should we be focusing on the fact that she's right about Black women in Hollywood being lowballed? Of course. Are Black people doing that tho? Of course not.
We heard "boycott Netflix" and nothing else.
Thankfully, the Very Smart Brothas stay living up to their name; writer Panama Jackson points out that instead of focusing on the fact that Mo'Nique is right, people are going on and on about how much they don't like her.
In a world like comedy, pay is way more subjective than a simple one-to-one comparison of analysts at Booz Allen Hamilton. The thing is, the only way to make sure that companies ARE held to the fire is to put those things out there publicly. Mo’Nique could have taken her loss and kept it moving. But she saw an injustice and spoke up about it. And what happened?Gabrielle Union - whom I'm assuming is more palatable to the Black masses - has basically been saying much of what Mo'Nique is saying. Remember her feature on The Root?
Apparently, Mo’Nique is the wrong person to speak on it. Other comedians have come out mocking her. She’s been dragged for thinking she’s “worth” more than $500,000. How dare this black woman think she’s got the right to ask for more?
The tone and tenor of most of the conversations seem to hover soundly on the fact that people don’t like her that much. Maybe she’s burned bridges or talked too much shit about folks. Yes, she’s feuded with Lee Daniels, Tyler Perry and Oprah. Perhaps she was notoriously hard to work with. Does that mean that she’s wrong? No. Is it possible that Netflix is intentionally lowballing their black women comedians? Yes.
Shit, do you care? It seems like while most of us are on the Colin Kaepernick-speaking-on-social-injustice bandwagon—at least until the playoffs started—Mo’Nique asking for fair treatment in wages is a bridge too far. If you don’t like her, she’s full of shit. And that’s trash. We can’t let personal feelings, especially for somebody most of us don’t actually know, get in the way of a real problem that exists and negatively impacts our community. (Source)
Mo'Nique is still making videos about the Netflix and each one is more illuminating than the last. In her most recent video, she pointed out that Amy Oh-So-Basic Schumer's 2017 movie Snatched cost $42 million to make, and raked in a paltry $3 million profit. Meanwhile, the 2016 Black star-studded Almost Christmas (of which Mo'Nique was a part), made a $25 million profit off a budget of $17 million. So for anyone who's ever wondered how White-centric flops are continually funded, along with how White actors/comedians manage to stay rich while actors of color stay struggling, this is how it's done.
To give you a bit more perspective, tickets for Black Panther are currently selling left and right. The movie's already broken records and will very likely break more. I suspect it will rake in a ridiculous amount of money, hundreds of millions (if not at least a billion). So let's all stop and think about how a huge chunk of those profits will not go to enrich the Black star-studded cast, but instead to fund mediocre flops whose White actors will receive the kind of salaries POC are constantly told we're not worth and don't deserve.
And don't bother reminding me that Shonda Rhimes recently received $100 million to develop original material from Netflix. Rhimes is not a comedian. She's not in front of the camera. She's a creator. She created Grey's Anatomy, which has been running since 2005 and from which Disney raked $2 billion. When Rhimes realized she hadn't made any billion dollars from any one of her several successful shows, she moved to Netflix.
Again let's put this in perspective - Shonda Rhimes inked a deal for $100 million. For a creator of her caliber, that number not only strikes me as low, but let's say someone like Joss Whedon were to ink a deal with Netflix...do we really believe that's all he'd get paid?
These are the things we need to be focusing on rather than looking for creative ways to roast Mo'Nique. She is voicing what several other Black artists have said for years, but in her typical style, she's being louder, more relentless, and completely unapologetic.
Lastly, children, respect your goddamn elders. Stop saying Mo'Nique's not funny or not relevant or how you rolled your eyes when she did I Coulda Been Your Cellmate and the accompanying documentary Behind Bars. That was some real shit. That was some potent shit. Her choice to entertain and interview imprisoned women cemented her as an MVP in my heart forever. I was immediately reminded of when I saw her perform live in West Virginia, and she was telling some sistas who were about to be deployed to never fight for a country that would never fight for us.