The Media, Diversity and Social Change Initiative at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism released a study Wednesday that found Hollywood has made little to no progress with improving the diversity of its movie characters or directors.
The study has been taking a look at the top 100 grossing films every year from 2007 to 2015. It did not include data for LGBT people until 2014. Based on the 2015 data, LGBT inclusiveness continues to be dismal.
“Only 32 speaking or named characters were lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender across the sample of the 100 top films of 2015.”
The 2015 study looked at 4,370 speaking or named characters. Only 32 speaking or named characters were lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender across the sample of the 100 top films of 2015. It is an increase of 13 portrayals from the 2014 report. Just one transgender character appeared sample‐wide, as well as 19 gay men, 7 lesbians, and 5 bisexuals (3 males, 2 females).
There was not one lead or co-lead who was LGBT identified in any of the top 100 films of 2015. 82 of the films did not depict one LGBT speaking or named character. Nearly three‐quarters of the LGBT characters were male (68.8%) and 31.2% were female. Just over 40% (40.6%) of LGBT characters were from an underrepresented racial/ethnic group. 59.4% were white.
Just over over two‐thirds (68.2%) of the LGBT characters were shown as married or in committed relationships. This is a big improvement over 2014. Only two LGBT parents were depicted across the 100 top films of 2015. Both characters were lesbians and appear in one movie.
“Not one Transgender character was portrayed in the 100 films that were studied.”
The 2014 study looked at 4,610 speaking or named characters on screen, out of which only 19 were coded as LGB across the 100 top films of 2014. This is less than half of 1% of all portrayals (.4%). Ten characters were coded as Gay, 4 were Lesbian, and 5 were Bisexual. Not one Transgender character was portrayed in the 100 films that were studied. Only 14 movies sample wide featured an LGB depiction and none of those films were animated. Nearly two‐thirds of those 19 characters were male (63.2%) and only 36.8% were female. LGB characters were also predominantly White (84.2% or 16 White characters, 10.5% or 2 Asian characters, 5.3% or 1 Black character).
Of the 19 LGB characters in 2014, only two were portrayed as being in a public, stable, long‐term partnership and two were shown dating. Notably, these characters represented interracial (Asian/White) Lesbian couples. However, no Gay or Bisexual male characters were portrayed in a committed relationship. Second, no LGB characters were depicted as parents raising young children together. Finally, a handful of Gay and Bisexual characters were shown concealing their sexuality.
Though this data is not very surprising to the transgender community, you would think the numbers would have improved in 2015 with films such as The Danish Girl and Tangerine. Unfortunately both films did not crack the top 100. The Danish Girl finished 124th and Tangerine finished 238th in 2015.