Disney & Sony Fail Standards For LGBT Representation In Film

REX USA
You’re probably fairly familiar with the Bechdel Test — a set of evaluative criteria that monitors gender bias across movies and fiction. Now, it’s time to get to know GLAAD’s newly-created Vito Russo Test, which analyzes how LGBT communities are represented in film.

In order to pass, a movie must meet three qualifications: It has to contain at least one lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender character; that character needs to be defined by something other than their sexual or gender identity; and they must be integral in such a way that the plot would be affected by their absence. In other words, they have to be multidimensional. They can’t be token stereotypes. They need to matter.

According to GLAAD’s most recent analysis, mainstream movie studios have some improvements, but they still have a very long way to go. The organization found that the vast majority of LGBT roles were minor — or even just cameos — and of the 20 films it deemed to be inclusive, half of those featured five fewer minutes of screen time for LGBT characters (and in some cases, fewer than 30 seconds).

Even in films that required audiences to acknowledge that specific characters were gay, like How to Train Your Dragon 2 and The Expendables 3, GLAAD noted that “viewers may not have been aware they were watching gay characters unless they inferred as much from a single, ambiguous line of dialogue or read an interview with the filmmakers discussing the characters.” While no single movie studio received a rating of "excellent" by GLAAD’s standards, two stood out for having failed: Sony and Disney.

While it’s disappointing that any filmmaking organization would fall short of Vito Russo Test standards, it’s particularly disheartening that Disney — a studio capturing the eyeballs and minds of a future generation — isn’t taking care to better represent the LGBT experience. Kids need dynamic characters to relate to, and Disney has an opportunity to make them feel a little less lonely in the world by creating them on the big screen: Why not go for it?
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