When Lucy made more money than Hercules did this weekend, a lot of people figured it was a good thing; after all, it might convince someone that more women should lead action movies. But many of us forgot (and I’m absolutely guilty of it too, I’ll fully admit) that it’s not as if there are very many opportunities for men of color like Dwayne Johnson to lead action movies either, particularly in a fantasy setting. As this graph shows, we have a really, really long way to go when it comes to depicting diversity in these genres.
The data was collected in a recent study by children’s books publisher Lee and Low Books, who looked at the 100 top domestic grossing sci-fi and fantasy movies using information from Box Office Mojo. Only 14 of movies featured female protagonists, which is heinous, but even worse is that only 8% had protagonists of color—Will Smith played six of them and Keanu Reeves played the other two. Yeesh. And only one, Avatar, featured a disabled protagonist.
From the Lee and Low press statement:
“The statistics are certainly striking, especially since sci-fi and fantasy belong to a genre that prides itself on creativity and imagination,” says Marissa Lee, co-founder of the international grassroots organization Racebending.com, which is dedicated to furthering equal opportunities in Hollywood and beyond. “Hollywood has managed to market some weird stuff, like a tentpole movie about talking teenage turtle martial artists, or cars that change into space robots. I don’t buy that when it comes to marketing diverse leads, suddenly this giant industry can’t do it.”
Imran Siddiquee, Director of Communications at the Representation Project, a movement that uses film and media content to expose injustices created by gender stereotypes, says Hollywood blockbusters are rarely accidental. “Just look at the top ten films in each of the last five years: nearly every single one had a budget of more than $100 million,” Siddiquee says. “Meanwhile, there hasn’t been a single film released this year starring a person of color with a budget of more than $50 million.”
Lee and Low put together a full interview with Siddiquee and Lee over on their blog, which you should absolutely read in its entirety. As Siddiquee notes, “the slight increase in success for white women in blockbuster sci-fi movies, such as Gravity, The Hunger Games, and Divergent, means change is possible.” But we all have to remember (and I’m including myself in that, because this time I forgot, and I apologize for that) to keep pushing for that change.
(via Lee and Low Books)