GLAAD, the nation’s leading LGBT media advocacy organization, released their first annual Studio Responsibility Index, which looks at the quantity, quality and diversity of images of LGBT characters in films from the six major studios during 2012.
Out of the 101 films released in 2012, there were only 14 that included characters that identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual. Most of those were only minor or cameo roles. There were no transgender characters.
Half of those films featured gay male characters (55.6%), lesbian characters made up 33% and bisexual characters made up 11%. Male characters represented 63% of the LGBT images onscreen and women only 37%.
There were 31 characters counted and of those 17 were white, four were African American and one was Latino. The majority of LGBT characters were found in comedies. Genre films (action, sci-fi, horror) made up the majority of 2012 releases, but only three had LGBT characters. And only one of 21 dramas, one of four documentaries and none of the family/animated films released had LGBT characters.
Alongside the Studio Responsibility Index, GLAAD has also created their own version of the Bechdel Test. The Vito Russo Test, named after the GLAAD co-founder and famed film historian. The criteria, below (text courtesy of GLAAD), is what GLAAD hopes that more mainstream films will reach in the future.
1. The film contains a character that is identifiably lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender (LGBT).
2. 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).
3. 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 should matter.
Only 6 films, of the 14, passed the Vito Russo test for 2012. A recent Atlantic article discussed the Vito Russo and the newly minted Mako Mori Test, which came out of sci-fi fangirl Tumblr discussion of this summer’s action flick Pacific Rim, in comparison to the Bechdel Test.
GLAAD will release the next Studio Responsibility Index in 2014.