A recent report Inequality in 1,100 Popular Films reveals that out of 4,403 characters studied in Hollywood movies last year, less than 1% (only 0.7%)) were gay, lesbian, or bisexual. No transgender characters in the top 100 movies of the year at all.
Conducted over a decade, looking at Hollywood’s biggest films from 2007 to 2017, researchers examined portrayals of women, characters of color, LGBT characters, and characters with disability.
Overall, the numbers reveal that despite all the talk about diversity and representation, there is less action to make it happen.
Looking at the bigger oicture from 2014 to 2017 (400 films and 17,820 characters) things don’t get much better. Across those years, 83 characters were gay. That’s 0.004% of all characters examined. Besides, only 29 were lesbians and 22 were bisexual. A single trans character appeared in these 400 films.
For other portrayals the report assesses, the numbers remain unfortunately low.
Of the studied 1,100 films, only 13% had a gender balance in their cast. When looking year-by-year, women fared worst in 2014 with 28.1% of speaking roles and best in 2008 and 2009, with 32.8% each. In 2017 alone, only 33 films of the 100 most popular had a female lead or co-lead. Of those characters, only 4 were women of color and 5 were 45 or older.
In terms of race, 70.7% of characters since 2007 have been white. 12.1% have been black, 6.2% Hispanic, 4.8% Asian, and 6.3% other. Once more, this is also worse for women of color. Of the top 100 films of last year, 43 had no black women, 65 had no Asian women, 64 had no Hispanic or Latinx women, and 94 had not LGBT women.
For people with disabilities, only 2.5% of speaking roles were depicted as characters with a disability. 61.6% of them were physical disabilities, 26.8% were mental, and 30.4% were communicative. The gender factor also plays a role in this. 69.6% of the characters with disabilities were male and 30.4% were female.
A solution could be adopting the inclusion rider provision, which gained popularity after Frances McDormand mentioned it in her Oscars acceptance speech earlier this year. In any case, Hollywood has to pull their socks up!