Glaad report shows film studios still failing with LGBT representation.
Major film studios have failed to increase LGBT representation in 2016, according to a new report released by GLAAD.
The annual study, known as the Studio Responsibility Index, examined the top 125 films of the year and found that 18.4% featured LGBT characters, and mostly in minor roles. In 10 of the 23 films included, characters received less than one minute of screen time.
Each studio was given a grade, with Disney, Sony and Lionsgate all “failing”; Fox Searchlight Pictures, Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures were all “poor”, and Comcast NBC Universal Studios Entertainment came out best with “insufficient”. Universal was singled out for comedy sequel Neighbours 2: Sorority Rising and an “unexpectedly well-handled subplot” about gay marriage.
“It is not getting better,” Sarah Kate Ellis-Henderson, Glaad president and chief executive, said to Variety. “The bars are not being moved.”
In a year that led to Moonlight becoming the first LGBT film to win the best picture at the Oscars, there was also a decrease in LGBT characters of colour, falling 12% from the previous year. Only one major film in 2016 featured a trans character and that was Benedict Cumberbatch’s much-criticized performance as a model in Zoolander 2, which the report referred to as a collection of “cheap jokes”.
“Having representation, especially in the films that are widely distributed not only here in the states, they change hearts and minds,” Ellis said. “They allow people who are LGBTQ to see themselves reflected. That’s why it’s so important.”
In the report, Ellis did briefly cover a promising start to 2017 with gay characters in blockbusters such as Beauty and the Beast and Power Rangers but countered this with the gay panic humour of cop comedy Chips. LGBT representation on TV continues to outshine cinema, with Netflix’s Sense8 and Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe both featured as notable examples.
“Millenials aged 18 to 34 are more than twice as likely to identify as LGBTQ as older generations,” she writes in the report. “If the film wants to remain relevant and retain an audience that has more options for entertainment than ever before, the industry must catch up in reflecting the full diversity of this country.”