“Epidemic of Invisibility” Shown in Study on Diversity in Movies for the Past Seven Years
"I don't see race." Yeah. That's the problem.
What’s missing from this picture?
A study on movies from the year 2007 to 2014 has revealed that progress in terms of equal—or even more accurately proportional—representation of gender and race in film hasn’t really gone much of anywhere. That is, except notable improvement in one area that might do the most good in the long run.
The study, authored by professor Stacy L. Smith of University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, looked at the 100 top-grossing movies from each year along the way and took note of the gender and race of some 30,000 actors with speaking roles. Sadly, over the entire 7-year period, just 11% of the movies had an even balance or better of women and men in parts with lines. Additionally, in 2014, Smith says (via Deadline),
[T]here were 17 films with no black or African-American actors and over 40 with no Asians. Not one film featured a transgender character. And only 21 of the top 100 movies featured a female lead or co-lead.
Sadly, there wasn’t really any noticeable improvement despite everyone whose childhood has been ruined by us darn feminists and our pesky “asking to see things get changed up a bit, because it would be a nice thing to do.”
However, animated films were a bright spot with an improvement of 25.4% in the amount of characters from generally underrepresented groups. Unfortunately, that was mostly due to a single film: The Book of Life. Still, with movies like Frozen doing so well and Big Hero 6‘s diverse cast of characters, I have hope that maybe animated film can keep up that trend—especially since animated movies aim towards a younger audience.
If kids grow up watching movies where they’re used to seeing diverse characters in prominent roles, hopefully the next generation of filmmakers will be a little better about portraying that for all audiences.
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