For four years now, GLAAD have released their annual Studio Responsibility Index (SRI), which maps the quantity, quality, and diversity of images of LGBT people in films released by the seven largest studios.
Their new report, which is their fourth annual one since SRI began, looks at the previous calendar year 2015. In comparison to the previous year, which showed improvement in diversity, this year saw racial diversity of LGBT characters drastically decreased and there is still a lack of LGBT characters in mainstream films.
Of the 126 releases from the major studios last year, 17.5% of them (just 22 films) included characters that are LGBTQ+, which is the same figure that we saw in last year’s report. However, transgender representation is very low, with only one character in the mainstream releases of 2015. Also, most of the characters found by GLAAD in films by these seven studios were minor characters or just cameos.
Of these 22 films that featured LGBTQ+ characters, 73% had less than 10 minutes screen time for these characters. This is reflected further in the very low percentage, 36%, of inclusive films that passed the Vito Russo Test.
GLAAD President and CEO, Sarah Kate Ellis, had this to say: “Hollywood’s films lag far behind any other form of media when it comes to portrayals of LGBT characters. Too often, the few LGBT characters that make it to the big screen are the target of a punchline or token characters. The film industry must embrace new and inclusive stories if it wants to remain competitive and relevant.”
None of the studios studied received a “Good” rating for films released in 2015. 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate Entertainment, Sony Columbia Pictures, and Universal Pictures all got ratings of “adequate”, whereas Paramount Pictures, Walt Disney Studios, and Warner Brothers all received “failing” grades.
GLAAD also revealed that starting next year, they will have a better system in play to more accurately grade and report LGBTQ+ representation in Hollywood, by replacing their current four grade system to a five star scale.
GLAAD didn’t just look at the largest studios, though. They also examined Focus Features, Fox Searchlight, Roadside Attractions, and Sony Pictures Classics to examine any differences between the mainstream studios and their indie divisions.
Of the 46 films released by these arthouse studios, 22% of them were found to be LGBT inclusive, a nice increase of 10.6% from last year. This percent is also noticeably higher than that of the mainstream studios.
GLAAD made several recommendations and observations based upon this year’s findings, which you can read about here.