GLAAD has released its annual “Studio Responsibility Index,” and it’s as sad as you might expect.
Looking at “the quantity, quality, and diversity of images of LGBT people in films released by the seven largest motion picture studios during the 2014 calendar year,” GLAAD found that of the 114 releases from the
major studios in 2014, 20 of them (17.5%) included characters identified as
lesbian, gay, or bisexual. There were no identifiable transgender characters in
major film releases. That somehow is a slight increase from the 16.7% they found last year, though that’s hardly good news.
GLAAD also saw fewer overtly defamatory depictions in
mainstream film compared to last year, though offensive representations were by
no means absent, and were found in films such as “Exodus: Gods and Kings”
and “Horrible Bosses 2.”
“As television and
streaming services continue to produce a remarkable breadth of diverse LGBT
representations, we still struggle to find depictions anywhere near as
authentic or meaningful in mainstream Hollywood film. The industry continues to
look increasingly out of touch by comparison, and still doesn’t represent the
full diversity of the American cultural fabric,” said GLAAD President
& CEO Sarah Kate Ellis.
Warner Brothers was the only studio to receive a
“Good” score for its films. 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate
Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, and Universal Pictures all scored
“Adequate,” with Sony Columbia Pictures and The Walt Disney Studios scored
as “Failing.” No studio has yet received a grade of “Excellent.”
Here’s some of GLAAD’s Observations and Recommendations:
of the 114 releases GLAAD counted from the major studios in 2014, 20 of
them (17.5%) contained characters identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual.
This is a slight increase from the 16.7% of films from the same studios we
found to be inclusive last year. There were zero depictions of transgender
people in 2014, despite a historic year for transgender representation on
again, most of the inclusive films (65%) featured gay male characters with
less than a third (30%) featuring bisexual characters and about one tenth
(10%) including lesbian characters. There was a slight increase in racial
diversity of LGB characters identified in 2014 with 32.1% being people of
color compared to 24% in 2013. Of the 28 characters we counted, 19 were
white (67.9%), 3 were Black/African American (10.7%), 2 were Latino/a
(7.1%), and 4 were Asian/Pacific Islander (14.3%).
the third year in a row, comedies were the most likely major studio films
to be LGBT-inclusive (8 of 19, 42.1%) while LGBT people were largely shut
out of the genre films (action, sci-fi, fantasy) where Hollywood film
studios commit the majority of their capital and promotional resources (3
of 46, 6.5%). Additionally, 3 of 13
animated/family films (23.1%), 6 of 33 dramas (18.2%), and none of the 3
documentaries contained LGBT characters.
majority of the LGBT depictions GLAAD found in Hollywood film this year
were minor characters or even just cameos.
Of the 20 films we found to be inclusive, ten of those contained
less than five minutes of screen time for their LGBT characters – with
several being less than 30 seconds – while three others contained less
than ten minutes of screen time. In the case of several films, audiences
may not have been aware that they were seeing LGBT characters if they did
not read outside press coverage or were unaware of the real-life LGBT
person a character was based on.
year, GLAAD also examined the film releases of four smaller, affiliated
studios (Focus Features, Fox Searchlight, Roadside Attractions, and Sony
Pictures Classics) to draw a comparison between the mainstream studios and
their perceived “art house” or “independent”
wings. Of the 47 films released
under those studio imprints, we found only 5 to be LGBT-inclusive, or
Notably, GLAAD introduced the “Vito Russo Test”
in 2012, which analyzes how LGBT characters are represented in a
fictional work. Named after GLAAD
co-founder and celebrated film historian Vito Russo, and partly 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.
The Vito Russo Test criteria:
- The film contains a character that is
identifiably lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender (LGBT).
- That character must not be solely or
predominantly defined by their sexual orientation or gender identity (i.e.
the character is made up of the same sort of unique character traits
commonly used to differentiate straight characters from one another).
- The LGBT character must be tied into the
plot in such a way that their removal would have a significant effect. Meaning
they are not there to simply provide colorful commentary, paint urban
authenticity, or (perhaps most commonly) set up a punchline; the character
How many passed this test? 11 of the 20 major studio films that featured an
“While we were pleased to see Warner
Brothers show real improvement in its LGBT-inclusive films in 2014, they also
recently released the comedy Get Hard,
one of the most problematic films we have seen in some time,” said Ellis.” This glaring lack
of consistency seems to be common amongst almost every major film studio,
showing a need for greater oversight in how their films represent – or don’t
represent – significant portions of their audience. Only
when they make those changes and catch up to other, more consistently inclusive
media portrayals will we be able to say that America’s film industry is a full
partner in accelerating acceptance.”