Ewan McGregor & Jim Carrey in I Love You Phillip Morris

A major new study has concluded that gay and lesbian people continue to be depicted as stereotypes by the movie industry.

The independent study was commissioned by the UK Film Council – which funded the Oscar-winning film, The King’s Speech – and surveyed 4,315 people to uncover their views and opinions about the portrayal of diverse groups in film.

Almost three-quarters (71%) of lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) audiences believe that films focus on them as having problems rather than being everyday people.

And 80% of LGB individuals feel that the focus on gay characters in film concentrates too much on their sexuality.

The survey also found that older women feel marginalised and under-represented and believe that they are usually shown as background, sexless figures.

A majority (80%) of Black African/Caribbean individuals believe they are too often characterised as drug dealers in film and around three-quarters (74%) would like to see a movie superhero that isn’t a white guy. A large proportion of Asian audiences (74%) believe that Asian religious culture is not reflected authentically.

The council said that these figures become even more important when contrasted with how powerful the general population feels the role of film has in changing behaviour. Almost 7 in 10 people (69%) believe that movies have the power to tell stories that educate people about real life events, demonstrating that film doesn’t merely entertain and pass the time, but is an important medium to help change ingrained beliefs and stereotypes in society.

While 71% of the general public claim that film has become more authentic in its portrayal of diverse groups over the last 10 years, a massive 95% of Asian and Eastern European groups, 97% of Black African/Caribbean, and 90% of LGB groups believe much more needs to be done.

“Film remains one of the most popular pastimes for people in the UK and this research highlights the often overlooked views, opinions and needs of the diverse groups that make up an important part of the film industry’s audience,” commented Mary FitzPatrick, Head of Diversity at the UK Film Council.

“Film has the ability to change behaviour and shift opinion, so we in the Industry all have a responsibility to ensure that these findings are not ignored.”

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