On Thursday, major studios got a rude wake-up call thanks to GLAAD's fifth annual report card on Hollywood's portrayal of LGBTQ characters in film. Although one might think there would be gains given the fact that it's the 21st Century and big wig execs should know better by now, the report for the 2016 calendar year found major studios are still missing the mark. In fact, not one studio received a "good" or "excellent" rating in the findings.
The report, which is officially known as the Studio Responsibility Index, analyzes the "quantity, quality, and diversity of images of LGBTQ people" in movies released by the seven most notable studios in Hollywood. The studios covered were Universal, Paramount, Warner Bros., Sony Pictures, Walt Disney Studios, and Lionsgate Entertainment. Romper has reached out to all of the studios examined in GLAAD's report for a comment. The report used the Vito Russo Test to grade the studios, a barometer which looks at three points of passability.
By the looks of the report, the film industry failed miserably on a collective scale. According to the findings, only 23 of the 125 movies released in 2016 (18.4 precent) included lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or queer characters. To make matters worse, the statistic is only a one point increase from 17.5 percent in 2015.
Ready for another staggering statistic? When it comes to the racial diversity of LGBTQ characters, GLAAD reported that only 20.0 percent of LGBTQ characters were people of color, a drop from 2015's 25.5 percent stat. Of all the 70 LGBTQ characters counted, 48 were white (69 percent), nine were black (13 percent), four were Asian or Pacific Islander (6 percent), and one was Latinx (1 percent). The other eight characters (11 percent) were not human. Based on these numbers, it's pretty clear the United States still has a long way to go when it comes to LGBTQ representation and equality since the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015.
Now onto the deadening individual stats.
Lionsgate Entertainment received an "adequate" grade from GLAAD. Out of 24 films, there were three appearances by LGBTQ people (12.5 percent). One of these films passed the Vito Russo Test.
Sony Pictures got an "adequate" grade from GLAAD. The studio released 21 films with two appearances by LGBTQ people (9.5 percent). One of the films passed the Vito Russo Test.
GLAAD gave Warner Bros. a "poor" grade. The company released 19 films with four appearances by LGBTQ people, (21%). Not one film passed the Vito Russo Test.
Universal received an "adequate" rating from GLAAD. Universal put out 17 films with five appearances by LGBTQ people (29 percent). Two of these films passed the Vito Russo Test.
Paramount Pictures got a "failing" grade from GLAAD. Paramount released 15 films with five appearances by LGBTQ people (33 percent). Three of these films passed the Vito Russo Test.
20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox received a "failing" grade from GLAAD. Out of 16 films, there were just three appearances by LGBTQ people (19 percent). Two of the studio's films passed the Vito Russo Test.
Walt Disney Studios
GLAAD gave Walt Disney Studios a "failing" grade. The studio released 13 films with only one appearance of a LBGTQ person (8 percent). Major movies considered were Finding Dory (which featured TV personality Ellen DeGeneres) and Zootopia. No Disney film passed the Vito Russo test.
Although the studio findings are appalling, GLAAD’s president, Sarah Kate Ellis, imparted a final message of hope based off the recent LGBTQ gains seen on television. Ellis said:
With many of the most popular TV shows proudly including LGBTQ characters and stories. the time has come for the film industry to step up and show the full diversity of the world that movie audiences are living in today instead and end the outdated humor seen in many films. Films like Moonlight prove there is a huge opportunity to not only tell LGBTQ stories worthy of Oscar gold, but to open the hearts and minds of audiences here and around the world in places where these stories can be a lifeline to the people who need it most.
It's definitely interesting to see the contrast of LGBTQ characters on television versus those on the big screen. Although there have been some alleged instances of queer-baiting with shows like Riverdale, television has seen a marked improvement with its representation and handling of LGBTQ characters. Despite all of this, it remains disappointing that Hollywood is still struggling with this issue. Independent companies shouldn't be the only ones to release worthy portrayals of LGBTQ characters, especially when you consider the United States is seeing a decline in equality thanks to the GOP. Movies should be the place where one goes to escape reality or envision the way that things should be, as opposed to having the status quo supported and reinforced.