Oprah made 10x more than Alex Rodriguez did last year

by Paul William Tenny

steven-spielberg.jpgI've been stewing over the past week over a celebrity income list published by Us Magazine last Friday. At first I was just equal parts pissed and disgusted, but then I wanted to write about it because it's really fun writing about how rich people shouldn't be rich, but decided not to because lets face it, obsessing over celeb wealth is pretty pathetic. Then I lost the damn story and naturally felt and overwhelming need to complain about it and so here you are, suffering right along with me.

I haven't seen the whole list and don't really care to, but I just can't go on with life without saying how intensely absurd it is that Dr. Fucking Phil ($90 million) almost made more money in 2007 than did a pioneer and legend like Steven Speilberg ($110m.) How does the host of a reviled daytime talk show that is only slightly hipper than the Jerry Springer Show (Spring is actually a very well educated and bright person by the way) nearly earn more than one of the founding partners of Dreamworks -- probably the most successful pseudo-indy studio out there?
Then there's the model that nobody in the United States had heard of until she hooked up with Patriots QB Tom Brady, Gisele Bundchen -- whose only talent in life is that she was born pretty -- made $33 million last year. It's no secret that our character-obsessed culture rewards pretty people just for being pretty, but in what reality does it make sense that a pretty face earns $33 million per year while people with actual talents who are actively contributing to the welfare of our species -- you know, teachers -- are quitting their jobs in favor of working as fast food managers because the pay is so pathetic that they can't even make a living.

Props to people for gaming the system and getting everything they can get, I'm not really comlaining about Bundchen or McGraw here. This is targeted directly at the insane execs in the various industries (sports, modeling, TV and film, etc) that are just throwing money into the fire for no good reason. Do they think if they pay Bundchen $10 million per year instead of 33, that she'll stop modeling? Do they think she'll magically stop being so beautiful? Do they honestly believe having her modeling their stuff is going bring enough extra business to justify spending that kind of money for a single person that does nothing but walk up and down a catwalk a couple of times per day?

We're talking about a model that makes more per year than Alex Rodriguez does playing for the Yankees -- the highest paid player in baseball. You can debate what each brings to the table if you'd like to see which of the two is overpaid, but I'm going to argue to a brick wall that both are overpaid. Any society that pays a professional athlete, a model, or a faux talkshow host nearly 1,000 times more than a teacher who is responsible for educating our next generation of models, sports superstars, and talkshow hosts, needs to start all over again. That's how you get a society obsessed with this kind of crap in the first place. Good teachers can't afford to teach so we end up with kids who would rather get rich doing substantially nothing in their lives other than acquire wealth, rather than becoming doctors, astronauts, presidents, and god forbid more teachers.

Of the people on this short list, I can at least understand the musicians and actors. At least they are selling something. And truthfully it has given me a different perspective on the film industry when it comes to pay. I used to have a lot of bad feelings towards actors that I felt were overpaid, and to a degree I still harbor those feelings when you compare what A-list actors make and what A-list writers make, but now that I see what far more useless people in the world are pulling it, I'm really shocked here. A freaking dog ($12m) made more money last year than either Jessica Alba ($9m), or Katherine Heigl ($11m.) Made more than Eli Manning ($11m), too.

The real gut buster though is Oprah. How that woman is worth a quarter of a billion per year is beyond me. Excuse my language, but that's just fucked up right there.
in Business


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