It will not come as a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention, but Hollywood has a bit of a diversity problem. However, with things like #OscarsSoWhite and controversy around films like The Great Wall, it can seem that things are headed in a more aware, inclusive direction. Unfortunately, statistics would say otherwise. According to Entertainment Weekly, the findings from a new study by the Media, Diversity, & Social Change Initiative at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication were released on Wednesday, and unless you’re a white straight man, the data isn’t great. According to the study, diversity hasn’t improved much since 2007.
Female representation is still terrible, with only 31.4% of all speaking roles going to women in 2015’s top 100 movies (up a tiny percentage from 2007’s 29.9%). Additionally with that low percentage, many women are only onscreen to up the “sexiness quota,” as the study found that female characters aged 13 – 20 had the same probability for provocative attire or nudity as 21 – 39 year old characters. Basically, if you’re a woman, be prepared to sex it up onscreen.
The numbers get even more dismal when looking at representation for people of color and members of the LGBTQ community. In 2015, 73.7% of characters onscreen were white, and only 12.2% were black, 5.3% were Latino, and 3.9% were Asian, and those numbers were the same nearly a decade ago. As far as LGBTQ characters that had names and were given speaking roles, there were only 32 out of 4,370, with only a single transgender character being found in 2015’s top films. The lack of diversity is even more stark behind the camera: out of the top 100 films, only 8 were directed by female directors, 4 by black directors, and six Asian or Asian American directors.
According to USC professor Stacy L. Smith, who was the study’s main writer,
“We’re seeing entrenched inequality. Whether we’re studying gender, race, ethnicity, LGBT or characters with disabilities, we’re really seeing exclusionary forces leaving out anybody that’s not a straight, white, able-bodied man. Despite all the chatter and all the activism and all the press attention, it’s another year where the status quo has been maintained.”
While many complain that this inequality isn’t worth discussing (textbook privilege), these numbers simply don’t reflect the world around us. While white straight men certainly can have stories worth telling, if they’re the only stories getting told, art suffers. Diverse perspectives can only make Hollywood better, so hopefully things will eventually start to change.
(Via Entertainment Weekly)