Why Bradley Cooper’s Comments About Living In A Patriarchal Society Matter

Bradley-Cooper

Down with the patriarchy… is basically what actor Bradley Cooper has said. In his interview with Barbara Walters for her annual ‘Most Fascinating People’ special for ABC at the end of 2015, Bradley was asked about his regular on-screen co-star Jennifer Lawrence’s essay about the wage gap in Hollywood, and being paid less than him and 2 other male actors on ‘American Hustle’ as revealed by the 2014 Sony Leaks.

The veteran journalist asked the Hollywood heartthrob on his views about Jennifer speaking so boldly on a topic that has largely been undocumented, swept under the carpet, and most depressingly, tolerated and accepted in the industry.

“Why do you think they pay actresses less?” asked Barbara.

“In general we live in a patriarchal society. You can attest to that, probably, and [have seen] the evolution of that,” he responded.

Indeed Barbara HAS seen and can attest to the patriarchal dominance throughout her career. In 1976 she became the first female co-anchor of an evening news show in the United States, but for many years had put up with patronizing and condescending behavior from male colleagues who weren’t ready to look at a woman as a serious journalist.

Bradley’s admission of the dominance of patriarchy in a negative manner for women is eye-opening and important. His comments surrounding the unfair treatment of women in Hollywood come at a time when conversations about the topic have reached fever pitch.

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“I think it’s symptomatic of a larger issue. [Jennifer Lawrence] was bold enough to come out and write an op-ed about it. I think other professions are much worse than our profession, but it’s rampant, so why not start a conversation?” he reasoned.

For a second Barbara was stumped, because to hear an A-list male actor come out swinging in favor of equality like this is not exactly common place.

“Usually men don’t [speak out]. It’s the actresses like Jennifer Lawrence. So I think it’s really quite wonderful that you do, and I commend you,” she said, before adding how it is also a personal issue for her.

“As someone in the past who felt that the man got the better deal or more money, I’m not complaining, I’m just pointing it out,” she said.

It is not the first time Bradley has chosen to be a public advocate of fair pay in Hollywood. Right after Jennifer’s essay was published for Lena Dunhams’ Lenny Letter, he told the press it was “fantastic” that she had spoken out, using her popularity as a platform for change, and how awful it was that ‘American Hustle’ co-star Amy Adams was stiffed for pay despite her hard work.

She worked everyday on that movie and got paid nothing. It’s really horrible actually, it’s almost embarrassing,” he said at the time.

But it wasn’t just lip service he was paying, he vowed that in future he would start teaming up with female co-stars in order to negotiate the same rate of pay for his films.

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“I don’t know where it’s changing otherwise but that’s something that I could do. Usually you don’t talk about the financial stuff, you have people. But you know what? It’s time to start doing that,” he said.

Yes Bradley, it IS time, (well actually it’s overdue) to start these conversations and to take action. 2015 turned out to be quite the defining year for change in Hollywood, started by Patricia Arquette’s Oscar acceptance speech where she advocated equal pay not just in the film industry, but in society in general.

A few months later the ACLU launched an investigation into Hollywood studios’ alleged discriminatory hiring practices toward female directors, forcing them to miss out on earning the types of pay packets the likes of James Cameron, Bryan Singer and J.J Abrams receive on the regs.

In October, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a new Equal Pay measure, created by Democratic Senator Hannah Beth Jackson who was inspired after watching Patricia Arquette’s speech, which many say will play a huge hand in how Hollywood will pay actresses compared to men going forward.

All this is good news for women who are fed up of having to convince society that the wage gap does exists, the Sony Leaks made that indisputable. Along with organizations, activists, and A-list actresses who are raising their voices to change the culture of pay inequality in Hollywood, it is important to see men like Bradley Cooper also using their “platform of popularity” the way Jennifer Lawrence does.

Here’s to positive steps being taken to challenge and change the inequality in Hollywood, and the rest of the workforce.


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