By Seth Tamarkin, Staff Writer
Does Mo’Nique Have the Clout to Command a Netflix Boycott?
Over the past year, Netflix has committed to releasing a new stand-up comedy special every week to capitalize on the booming stand-up market. The platform has nurtured the careers of underrated comedians like Ali Wong, whose career blew up after her first Netflix special in 2016, as well as putting out new content from comedy heavyweights like Chris Rock, Amy Schumer, and Dave Chappelle. Yet, one comedian who won’t be coming to Netflix anytime soon is Mo’Nique, and she is hoping everyone jumps ship with her.
The Academy Award-winning actress and comedian, who claims she is the “most decorated comedian alive,” posted an Instagram video attacking Netflix for only offering her five-hundred thousand dollars for a comedy special even though fellow comedian Amy Schumer was offered eleven million dollars and Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle netted twenty million dollars. “I am asking that you stand with me and boycott Netflix for gender bias and color bias,” the Precious star stated. However, the chances that people join her Netflix boycott look finicky, which may point to exactly why the company lowballed her in the first place.
Right out the gate, Hollywood actress Jada Pinkett-Smith tweeted her support, saying, “You don’t have to agree with her boycott but don’t allow all of that to make you blind to the fact that non-White women and impoverished White women are underpaid, underrepresented and undervalued EVERYWHERE by EVERYONE.” Pinkett-Smith makes a great point about unrepresented people but opening with “you don’t have to agree with her boycott” spells out that she does not believe Netflix was being racist or sexist since she didn’t tell her followers to join the boycott.
Several Black celebrities were more critical and derided Mo’Nique for making a race issue out of what they believe is a Mo’Nique issue. When she said in a subsequent Instagram video that Netflix only offered her that much because that’s what they thought she would bring, Chris Rock’s brother Tony Rock agreed with them on the grounds that she is inactive, “You haven’t done anything in a long time,” he told TMZ. “You haven’t even toured enough to get the momentum going for a special!” He continued.
Rock may be on to something, since a similar situation happened to Amy Schumer in 2017 but she successfully renegotiated with Netflix for an extra two million dollars. Yes, Amy Schumer is a White woman, but she also sold out Madison Square Garden in 2016, had a number one best-selling book that same year, and starred in the wildly successful film Trainwrecked in 2015. All of this in addition to the years of touring since 2012 and a popular TV show that would, as Tony Rock puts it, give her momentum for a special. Mo’Nique on the other hand, since Precious in 2009, had one major tour in 2010, only appeared in three films, and briefly hosted a tv show on BET from 2009-2011. It’s hard to look at those numbers and still believe racial bias is what caused Mo’Nique’s lower payday, especially since the comedians she wanted more money than were both Black men.
With that said, it is true that on average Black women are the lowest-paid demographic, even more so than Black men. However, Charlamagne Tha God, radio host and author of 2017’s best-selling Black Privilege, a guide on overcoming adversity to reach success, said that point was irrelevant. “Tiffany Haddish is red hot right now” he stated, “she would make a lot more for a stand-up special from any network than half a million – I guarantee it.” Like Amy Schumer’s case, Charlamagne can back his claim just by looking at Haddish’s recent output. Her smash hit film Girl’s Trip, for example, made more money in 2017 than Mo’Nique’s entire filmography since 2009 made combined.
With a business that relies on algorithms like Netflix, the amount of money they offer is relevant to the amount of traffic they believe the comedian will bring to their streaming service. If Tiffany Haddish was offered only five-hundred thousand dollars then claims of racial and gender bias would be more credible since due to her current star power. As for Mo’Nique though, her lack of recent work begs the question. Music artist, Andre 3000, may have said it best in Outkast’s seminal song Rosa Parks, “You only funky as your last cut, you focus on the past your ass’ll be a has-what.”