Don't See People Like You In Blockbuster Movies? You're Not Alone

Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.
I bring you breaking news that things are still bad in Hollywood. That's pretty much the thesis of a recent study by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative by Dr. Stacy L. Smith, Marc Choueiti, Dr. Katherine Pieper, Ariana Case, and Angel Choi. After looking at 1,100 popular films released between the years 2007 and 2017, the study came to a bunch of depressing conclusions. For instance, there has been no real progress for women on screen in movies in the past decade. The percentage of speaking female characters has remained between a paltry 28.4% and 32.8% — and the stats just get worse when you take into consideration other underrepresented groups.
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Similar to women, the percentage of Black, Hispanic, and Other characters has remained pretty much the same since 2007, with under-represented characters making up a disappointing 29.3%.
For LGBT representation, the highest number of gay speaking characters was a paltry 36 in 2016 out of 17,820 over the last ten years. Lesbians got as high as nine that year, bisexual characters 6, and 0 for transgender characters. In fact, only one speaking role went to a transgender character, and that was in 2015.
Should I keep going? Things are also bad for those with disabilities. Differently abled characters made up an absolutely minuscule 2.5% of speaking characters — and this is just on screen! The study goes on to detail the many ways in which women and minorities are underrepresented behind the camera as directors, writers, producers, and composers (or, composer, since there was only one female composer out of 1,584 content creators).
If you want to have a sobering afternoon, you can read the whole study here. While this may be depressing news, it's important to have statistics like these to back up inclusion efforts. It proves there's never been a bigger need for organizations like Time's Up, and that Hollywood can't just talk the talk. These next ten years, it's time to see some walking.
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