According to the latest study from GLAAD, released this week, LGBT representation in film needs improvement as well.
Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD’s president and CEO, said in a statement.
Hollywood’s films lag far behind any other form of media when it comes to portrayals of LGBT characters. Too often, the few LGBT characters that make it to the big screen are the target of a punchline or token characters. The film industry must embrace new and inclusive stories if it wants to remain competitive and relevant.”
GLAAD is the leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender media advocacy organisation. Their fourth annual Studio Responsibility Index maps the quantity, quality and diversity of LGBT people in films released by the seven largest motion picture studios: 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros., Lionsgate Entertainment, Walt Disney Studios, Sony Columbia Pictures, Universal Pictures and Paramount Pictures.
Below are eight highlights from the study:
Only 22 of the 126 major releases in 2015 included characters identified as LGBT
That’s only 17.5% – and in those 22 films, there were 47 LGBT characters, which is up from 28 last year.
When movies do have LGBT characters, they are usually gay men
Male characters outnumbered females by a ratio of more than three to one. Sadly, only 9% of movies included bisexual characters while only one film was trans-inclusive – Warner Brothers’ “Hot Pursuit.”
Everyone is white
In 2014, 32.1% of LGBT characters were people of colour. That number dropped to 25.5% in 2015. Of the LGBT characters counted in 2015, 34 (72.3%) were white, five were Latino (10.6%), four were black (8.5%) and three (6.4%) were Asian or Pacific Islander. One character was non-human, Fabian in Lionsgate’s “Un Gallo con Muchos Huevos.”
Lack of screen time
Of the LGBT characters on screen, 73% had less than 10 minutes of screen time, their impact is additionally limited.
Of the seven studios, not even one is doing “good.”
Since the study’s inception, GLAAD has given each studio a rating of good, adequate or failing. None of them received a rating of “good” for their 2015 releases. Fox, Lionsgate, Sony and Universal all received ratings of “Adequate”, while Paramount, Disney and Warner Bros. all received a “Failing” grade.
The most inclusive major studio was Lionsgate, as eight of its 2015 releases were LGBT-inclusive.
Warner Bros. followed with five then Universal with four. Sony only had three and Fox two. Neither Disney nor Paramount included any LGBT content in their 2015 slates of 11 and 12 films, respectively.
That’s probably because LGBT depictions are getting worse.
Last year saw a resurgence of outright offensive images of LGBT people; more films relied on gay panic and defamatory stereotypes for giggles.
Though humour can be a powerful tool to challenge the norm, when crafted problematically, it has the opposite effect.
Only eight of the 22 LGBT-inclusive films passed the Vito Russo Test.
The Vito Russo Test is GLAAD’s set of criteria analysing how LGBT characters are represented in fictional work named after GLAAD co-founder and film historian Vito Russo.
Inspired by the Bechdel Test, these criteria represent a standard GLAAD would like to see a greater number of mainstream Hollywood films reach in the future.
In order to pass the Vito Russo Test, a film must include having an identifiably lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender character that is not solely or predominantly defined by their sexual orientation or gender identity and is tied into the plot in such a way that their removal would have a significant effect.
Only eight of the 22 major studio films that featured an LGBT character passed the test in 2015, the lowest percentage in this study’s history.
One positive, major studios have more progressive imprints
Last year, GLAAD began examining the film releases of four smaller, affiliated studios to draw a comparison between content released by the mainstream studios and their perceived “art house” divisions. Those smaller studios are Focus Features, Fox Searchlight, Roadside Attractions and Sony Pictures Classics.
Of the 46 films released under those studio imprints, 10, or 22%, were LGBT-inclusive. That’s a notably higher percentage than the parent studio counterparts and an increase from 2014’s 10.6% (five of 47) of films from the same divisions. Some of the films from these smaller studios include “The Danish Girl,” “Grandma” and “Stonewall.”