Hollywood studios “out of touch” on LGBT characters

Sandra Oh and Kathy Bates played a lesbian couple in Tammy

Sandra Oh and Kathy Bates played a lesbian couple in Tammy

An annual report on LGBT characters in Hollywood movies has found a slight improvement, but the major studios are falling behind television offerings.

According to GLAAD’s Studio Responsibility Index, of the 114 releases from the major studios in 2014, 20 (17.5%) included LGBT characters. This is compared to 16.7% in 2013.

There were however no transgender characters in major Hollywood film releases, despite a historic year for transgender representation in television shows such as Transparent.

GLAAD reported that in 2014 there were fewer overtly defamatory depictions in mainstream film compared to 2013, “though offensive representations were by no means absent,” and were found in films such as Exodus: Gods and Kings and Horrible Bosses 2.

“As television and streaming services continue to produce a remarkable breadth of diverse LGBT representations, we still struggle to find depictions anywhere near as authentic or meaningful in mainstream Hollywood film,” said GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis.

“The industry continues to look increasingly out of touch by comparison, and still doesn’t represent the full diversity of the American cultural fabric,” she noted.

Warner Brothers was the only studio to receive a “Good” score for its slate of films, which included the GLAAD Media Award-nominated film Tammy. 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, and Universal Pictures all scored “Adequate,” with Sony Columbia Pictures and The Walt Disney Studios scored as “Failing.” No studio has yet received a grade of “Excellent.”

Warner Brothers was nevertheless slammed for its recent release of the comedy Get Hard, described as” one of the most problematic films we have seen in some time.”

Most of the inclusive films (65%) featured gay male characters with less than a third (30%) featuring bisexual characters and about one tenth (10%) including lesbian characters. There was a slight increase in racial diversity of LGB characters identified in 2014 with 32.1% being people of colour compared to 24% in 2013.

For the third year in a row, comedies were the most likely major studio films to be LGBT-inclusive while LGBT characters were largely shut out of action, sci-fi and fantasy films, where Hollywood film studios commit most of their money.

The majority of the LGBT depictions GLAAD found in Hollywood films this year were also minor characters or even just cameos. In the case of several films, audiences may not have been aware that they were seeing LGBT characters if they did not read press coverage or were unaware of the real-life LGBT person a character was based on.

GLAAD also examined the film releases of four smaller, affiliated studios (Focus Features, Fox Searchlight, Roadside Attractions, and Sony Pictures Classics) to draw a comparison between the mainstream studios and their perceived “art house” or “independent” wings. Of the 47 films released under those studio imprints, only five were found to be LGBT-inclusive, or 10.6%.

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