Another month, another “Hollywood diversity report” telling us, in detail, what the broader picture has been screaming at us for as long as Hollywood has been an institution. I initially planned to ignore it, like most of the others, but it’s been republished quite a bit on other sites, and my inbox is full of emails asking me about it, so, what the heck; if you haven’t seen this one, which includes lovely colorful graphics (above and below) summarizing the report’s dismal statistics, here you go…
This study comes from the Media, Diversity, & Social Change Initiative at USC Annenberg, which they say is “the most comprehensive analysis of diversity in recent popular films ever conducted, bringing together data assessing gender, race/ethnicity and LGBT status in movies,” adding that, “The study reveals, for the first time, a complete picture of Hollywood’s indisputable bias against featuring females, people of color, and LGBT characters on screen.”
Let the church say, “Amen!”
And given this blog’s specific interests, I’ll skip to the section of the report labeled “Race/Ethnicity.”
– Of the 100 top-grossing films released theatrically in 2014, 26.9% were from an underrepresented racial/ethnic group.
– Of those characters coded for race/ethnicity across 100 top films of 2014, 73.1% were White, 4.9% were Hispanic/Latino, 12.5% were Black, 5.3% were Asian, 2.9% were Middle Eastern, <1% were American Indian/Alaskan Native or Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and 1.2% were from “other” racial and/or ethnic groupings. This represents no change in the portrayal of apparent race/ethnicity from 2007-2014.
– Only 17 of the 100 top films of 2014 featured a lead or co-lead actor from an underrepresented racial and/or ethnic group. An additional 3 films depicted an ensemble cast with 50% or more of the group comprised of actors from underrepresented racial/ethnic backgrounds.
– Just over a quarter of characters in action and/or adventure (26.1%) and comedy films (26.5%) are from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups across the 100 top films of 2014. This represents no change from 2007 or 2010.
– In comparison to top animated films of 2007, a 25.4% increase in the percentage of underrepresented characters was observed in the top animated films of 2014. However, over half of these 2014 characters appeared in just one animated film. Even without this movie, there is still a significant increase in the percentage of underrepresented speaking characters in animated films from 2007 to 2014.
– In 2014, 17 films did not feature one Black or African American speaking character. This is the same number of movies without Black characters across the 100 top films of 2013. Over 40 movies across the 2014 sample did not depict an Asian speaking character.
– Across the 100 top films of 2014, only 5 of the 107 directors (4.7%) were Black. One Black director helmed two pictures and only one was female. Only 45 Black directors have been attached to the 700 top-grossing films. This represents 5.8% of all helmers in the years analyzed.
– Only 19 Asian directors worked across the 700 top-grossing films. This is an overall percentage of 2.4%. Only 1 Asian director was female across the films analyzed and was listed as a co-director.
So how did USC reach these results? The study looked at every speaking or named character on screen – over 30,000 characters in all – from the top-grossing films released in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2014.
“The picture that film presents is one that bears little resemblance to our nation’s demography,” said USC Annenberg Professor Stacy L. Smith, author of the study and founding director of the Initiative. Obvious guy says, “Well, yeah.”
Stacy L. Smith adds: “By examining the trends over time, it is clear that no progress has been made either on screen or behind the camera when it comes to representing reality. This report reflects a dismal record of diversity for not just one group, but for females, people of color and the LGBT community.”
And more… “Hollywood continues to marginalize or exclude certain members of society.” Yes it most certainly does. But who’s counting… after all, there was one highlight in the report: the 25.4% increase in the percentage of characters from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups in the top animated films, from 2007 to 2014. However, over half of these 2014 characters appeared in one animated film (“The Book of Life”).
A full description of the results and methodology of the study, including findings related to film genre, can be found in the report: annenberg.usc.edu/MDSCI
As I always ask after I read reports like this, so what happens now…?
Here’s the rest of the graphic breakdown: