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Hollywood movies are still very white, straight, and male, study says

A new study of 800 recent movies found that women and minorities were underrepresented in speaking roles — and to an even greater degree, behind the camera.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Though Hollywood is often characterized as a bastion of liberalism, its movies continue to be dominated by characters who lack diversity, a new study has found.

Professors at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism examined 800 films that came out between 2007 and 2015 (though 2011 was omitted). Of 35,205 characters in those movies, 31.4 percent who spoke were female, 26.3 percent were racial minorities, and 2.4 had disabilities. LGBT-identified people made up less than 1 percent of the characters.


"Of the top 100 films of 2015, 49 films included no speaking or named Asian or Asian-American characters and 17 featured no Black/African American characters," the report said. "Similarly, 45 films did not include a character with a disability and 82 did not feature a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender character."

Representation in Hollywood made headlines recently thanks to Matt Bomer's portrayal of trans sex work in the upcoming film Anything, which prompted questions about why a trans actor couldn't have filled the lead trans role.Producer Mark Ruffalo weighed in on Twitter:

To the Trans community. I hear you. It's wrenching to you see you in this pain. I am glad we are having this conversation. It's time.

— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo)August 31, 2016

USC's study found that things are even less balanced behind the camera. Of more than 800 films examined, just 5.5 percent of directors were black and 2.8 percent were Asian or Asian American. Four percent were female, but women of color were all but unrepresented.

"Raised voices and calls for change are important, but so are practical and strategic solutions based on research," said study co-author Katherine Pieper. "The momentum created by activism needs to be matched with realistic tactics for creating change."

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