Some may regard Beyoncé as a child of destiny, but does she deserve $3 million for a day spent reclining on a sofa? It's time to put in place a maximum wage.
Tommy Hilfiger gave Beyoncé some $3 million for one day's work. What did the R&B star have to do to earn that money, we infrequent readers of celeb news might naturally ask? Now, before anyone gets carried away and starts wondering what kind of diabolical pacts with the devil this former Destiny's Child, this daughter of fate, has been striking, let me silence certain speculations.
Although some people have sold their body and soul for less, all Beyoncé had to do for her Hilfiger millions was put on the designer's new fragrance True Star, which has just been launched to salvage the fashion house's ailing fortunes. Now whether or not I agree that Beyoncé – who has made a career out of choosing pretentious names – is a true star is one question I will leave unanswered. Far more important is the issue of whether the singer's labours deserve such an outrageous daily wage – even if it does cover the use of her name on billboards and in TV commercials.
Well, I don't doubt that the 23-year-old works hard. In fact, one headline I came across while researching this piece reliably tells me that “Beyoncé is a workaholic”. Apparently, she'd never taken a holiday before two years ago.
Admirable as her Protestant work ethic might be, for this particular $3 million, she had, by her own admission, to do zilch. “It is the easiest job I've ever had,” she admitted in one magazine, probably in disbelief at the utter insanity of such a windfall. “I spent the day lying on a couch!”
Now I am not averse to spending the whole day lying on a couch – certain sofas positively demand it. And I wouldn't mind a huge fortune falling into my lap while I was so engaged. But where being a couch potato has earned the beautiful Beyoncé millions, all it gets me, and legions of other people, is some hard-earned rest.
Personally, I don't (much) begrudge her making lots of money from her singing – at least there is some visible link between effort and returns. It must take some talent for your first solo album to go quadruple platinum (this means it sold 4 million, for the uninitiated). I can't recall the tune or lyrics of a single track on that top-selling hit, even though I listen to FM radio regularly.
Whipping up a stink
I haven't yet come across Tommy Hilfiger's new scent but, even if it smells wonderful, I've already decided it stinks. True Star, its ad campaign tells us, is for “women who want to feel spectacular”.
“This new fragrance offers a glimpse of the rare, private moments of a celebrated superstar,” Hilfiger, himself, intoned.
Well, I urge anyone out there who may be tempted by this to rest assured that there is nothing intrinsic in a bottle of perfume that will make you feel “spectacular”. In addition, the only glimpse of Beyoncé's “rare, private moments” you'll be getting will be her lying on a sofa on your TV screen.
Now, if we collectively think that that's worth 60,000 bottles or so of the $60 per unit True Star, then I urge people to splash out. If, like me, you feel it's outrageous that we give an overpaid singer a daily wage that is greater than most of us will expect to earn in a lifetime, then I would suggest you refuse to buy the new Hilfiger fragrance.
Tommy Hilfiger is not the only culprit, of course. If he were, then we would perhaps have heard louder protests. In the modern world, we have become desensitised to the extraordinary sums going to the top earners. Now I'm not against people becoming wealthy and making an honest profit. I have nothing particularly against the ‘haves' of this world, it's the ‘have mores', as George W Bush calls his base, that bother me.
The concentration of wealth in the hands of entertainment and business elites is reaching ridiculous proportions – they sometimes make the riches of the ancient pharaohs appear modest. We usually, me included, don't bat an eyelid at the millions being scooped up by the richest while millions struggle to get by on a minimum wage.
I think that the creation of the minimum wage to protect the least fortunate in society against the harsh winds of the market was – and remains – an admirable achievement. Today, faced with such unimaginable levels of personal earnings, I think an upper cap has to be put on income. In my view, I think governments should legislate for a ‘maximum wage', or in this case an ‘endorsement ceiling'.
Such a cap would be high enough to allow people to be rewarded for their creativity and hard work – the fruits of their labour. The main intention of the max pay would be to put a halt to the excesses of modern commercial ethos – where global competition puts unfair downward pressure on the incomes of people at the bottom of the economic ladder and market hype inflates beyond reason the earnings of those at the top.
Having a maximum wage will also engender a higher level of corporate responsibility in large multinationals and end the gravy train mentality that earned the likes of Michael Eisner hundreds of millions of dollars for losing their companies money. I don't think the Beyoncés of this world need to worry about impending poverty or the dole queue. They'd still be rich. It's just their wealth wouldn't stink as badly.