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White, Straight, Able Bodied Males Still The Norm In Hollywood Finds Study

August 2, 2017

Hollywood is still underrepresenting women, disabled people, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and those from ethnic minority backgrounds, both on screen and behind the camera, a major study on diversity has found.

The report, commissioned by the Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative (MDSC) at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, analysed 900 popular films from the years 2007 to 2016 (excluding 2011, which was covered by a separate study). It found that there was little to no meaningful change in the representation of diverse groups in popular movie content, with “white, straight, able-bodied men remaining the norm on screen in film”.

Analysing the top 100 movies of 2016, the report found that only 31.4% of speaking characters were women, while non-white groups accounted for 29.1%. Of these, 13.6% were black and 5.7% were Asian. Hispanic people (3.1%) were particularly underrepresented with more than half of the 2016 films studied featuring no speaking characters who were Hispanic. Only 2.7% of speaking characters were depicted as having a disability. Meanwhile, 1.1% of speaking characters were gay, lesbian or bisexual, and no speaking character was identified as transgender. Only one film featured a gay protagonist: Oscar best-picture winner Moonlight.

The report also indicates major problems concerning intersectionality on screen, with nearly half of all the 100 top films of 2016 completely lacking black female speaking characters, while two-thirds or more had no Asian women and Hispanic women.

Behind the camera, the figures for women and ethnic minority groups were similarly low. Only 4.2% of directors in the 2016 films studied were female, and none of the titles were directed by black women. Of the 1,438 content creators (directors, writers, and producers) working on the top 100 films in 2016, only 17.8% were women.

“These are sustained and systemic problems. It is impossible to look at this data without concluding that much of the advocacy surrounding on-screen representation over the past few years has not been successful,” said Professor Stacy L Smith, who authored the study.

“These findings reveal that the erasure of different groups is still acceptable to some – we need look no further than film to see a vision of America that no longer exists. Film paints a distressing portrait of exclusion.”

The report suggests steps to improve diversity on screen, including targets for studios. It also says that top-level stars should consider inserting an equality clause into their contract stipulating that studios have to offer a more equitable process for auditioning on-screen talent and interviewing for behind-the-camera roles.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. August 2, 2017 2:45 pm

    No S**t.

    They also found that the sky is blue and that bears s**t in the woods.

    But police ignoring 999 calls when criminals turn up and make threats to murder…

    .
    Never mind a post, or even a tweet, that isn’t even worth a comment.

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