As the UK’s Film Council sadly goes out of business this week, but before they departed they produced a comprehensive report on diversity and stereotypes with lots of information to digest. The report focuses on minority audiences in British cinema (working class, lesbian, gay and bisexual audiences; minority ethnic audiences including more recent immigrants, Eastern European) and older women from 50-70.
Some of the key findings are:
• The power of film – “The great majority recognise the awesome power of film to tell stories, to influence, to educate and to inspire. Our country’s diverse audiences are even more aware of this power, especially for film’s ability to generate role models and to influence the public mindset.”
• 75% of the older women said that films have the ability to educate on real world issues.
• The vast majority surveyed believed that film has the power to challenge stereotypes and can influence minds.
When compared to Hollywood, all those surveyed believe that the UK does better in portraying older women. That shouldn’t surprise anyone since we know that Hollywood is terrible at portraying older women, if they are even present.
• Covering real world issues are important and people are looking for authenticity and while films are getting better in this respect there is still a lot of work to do to getting it right.
• Ethnic minorities are usually covered as tokens and the writing is lacking. If these films get better and more realistic people will attend more movies. “Creating more authentic portrayals in UK film is not mere lip-service to political correctness – it can elicit a commercial reward.”
• 69% of the older female audience think that films feature and glamorise the young with older female characters being significantly under-represented.
• 56% of the older female audience think older characters, especially women, are too often marginalised and tend only to feature as background characters.
• 64% of the LGB audience think that characters portrayed as lesbian are too often depicted as male sexual fantasies.
• 80% of the Black audience say Black characters are too often portrayed as drug dealers in films.
• A majority of the general public feel that older characters, especially women, are significantly under-represented in film, and, when shown, are too often in marginal roles.
• While a majority agree that older female characters tend not to be portrayed as sexual beings, half the country perceive that older women are comfortable as being attractive to younger men.
Older women unhappy over their portrayal in films, survey shows (The Guardian)
Don’t portray me as a sexless grandmother (UK Film Council)