comScore GLAAD 2014 Hollywood LGBTQ Responsibility Index | The Mary Sue

GLAAD Report Predictably Dour on Representation of LGBTQ Characters in Mainstream Film

Oh, Hollywood.

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The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation have released their 2014 Studio Responsibility Index, finding that of the more than one hundred films released in 2013 by seven of the biggest mainstream movie studios in America, a mere seventeen contained any LGBTQ characters, even when counting the most minor of roles.

The overall statistics went like this:

  • Out of the 102 releases GLAAD counted from the major studios in 2013, 17 of them (16.7%) contained characters identified as either lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Last year, GLAAD counted 14 inclusive films, however this is also the first year that Lionsgate Entertainment was included in the tally. Lionsgate released 3 inclusive films in 2013.
  • More than half of those inclusive films (64.7%) featured gay male characters, while another 23.5% featured lesbian characters, 17.7% contained bisexual characters, and 11.8% contained transgender female characters (better described as impressions). Male LGBT characters outnumbered female characters 64% to 36%.
  • Of the 25 different characters counted (many of whom were onscreen for no more than a few seconds), 19 were white (76%) while only 3 were Black/African American (12%), 2 were Asian/ Pacific Islander (8%), and 1 was Latino (4%).
  • Once again, the most common place to find LGBT characters in the major studios’ 2013 releases were in comedies, where 8 of the 19 total comedies GLAAD counted (42.1%) were inclusive. By comparison, 43 genre films (action, sci-fi, fantasy, etc) made up the majority of the 2013 releases, though only 4 (9.3%) of those contained any LGBT characters. Additionally, 5 of 28 dramas (17.9%) were inclusive, while there were no LGBT characters in any animated or family-oriented films or documentaries from the seven studios GLAAD tracked.

Many of those seventeen films, according to GLAAD, included gay characters in appearances that were no more than a few seconds long, just enough for a punchline. Anti-gay slurs were still voiced by characters the audience was “meant to be rooting for,” and just as prevalent, if not more, were anti-transgender slurs. Only two depictions of trangender characters occured in 2013 mainstream film, “one was a trans woman very briefly depicted in a jail cell, while the other was an outright defamatory depiction included purely to give the audience something to laugh at.”

It’s interesting, though not surprising, that genre film has the poorest track record on involving LGBTQ characters, and all the more reason for nerds of all stripes to be up front and vocal about progressive change in science fiction and fantasy film, not least about adaptations preserving the sexual and gender identity of characters who are established LGBTQ characters in their source material. As GLAAD says, genre and action franchises are studios’ biggest investments these days, and that’s because of how popular they are. A lot of people will be going to see Guardians of the Galaxy, for example, a team that, in comics, has often had a lesbian couple on its roster. With great market power comes great responsibility, nerds, so lets keep working for better representation in our favorite media.

Previously in GLAAD

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Susana Polo thought she'd get her Creative Writing degree from Oberlin, work a crap job, and fake it until she made it into comics. Instead she stumbled into a great job: founding and running this very website (she's Editor at Large now, very fancy). She's spoken at events like Geek Girl Con, New York Comic Con, and Comic Book City Con, wants to get a Batwoman tattoo and write a graphic novel, and one of her canine teeth is in backwards.