- GLAAD found that fewer than 20% of last year's films had LGBT characters
- Two films were cited for having offensive portrayals
- Study notes that TV is more inclusive
Although the general public may be embracing the LGBT community more these days, it doesn't look like Hollywood is keeping up.
That's the message of GLAAD's 2014 Studio Responsibility Index, which charts the "quantity, quality and diversity of images of LGBT people in films released by the seven largest motion picture studios during the 2013 calendar year."
This year's study found that of the 102 films released by the major studios in 2013, only 17 included characters identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual. And of those 17, the study concluded, most were minor characters, some of which GLAAD characterized as "defamatory representations."
"The lack of substantial LGBT characters in mainstream film, in addition to the outdated humor and stereotypes, suggests large Hollywood studios may be doing more harm than good when it comes to worldwide understanding of the LGBT community," GLAAD CEO and President Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement. "These studios have the eyes and ears of millions of audience members, and should reflect the true fabric of our society rather than feed into the hatred and prejudice against LGBT people too often seen around the globe."
20th Century Fox, Lionsgate, Universal Pictures and Walt Disney Studios were graded as "adequate" for their portrayal of the community, while both Warner Bros. and Paramount were rated as "failing" for "including only minor and offensive portrayals of LGBT." Warner Bros. is owned by the parent company of CNN.
Sony Pictures was the only studio to receive a "good" score for having several LGBT-inclusive films, including "Mortal Instruments: City of Bones." Two films, "Riddick" and "Pain and Gain," were singled out for having offensive portrayals.
Films were judged by the the organization's "Vito Russo Test," named after the film historian and GLAAD co-founder. In order to pass the test, a film had to meet the following criteria:
• The film must contain a character that is identifiably lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender.
• That character must not be solely or predominantly defined by their sexual orientation or gender identity. i.e. They are made up of the same sort of unique character traits commonly used to differentiate straight characters from one another.
• The LGBT character must be tied into the plot in such a way that their removal would have a significant effect. They are not there to simply provide colorful commentary, paint urban authenticity or (perhaps most commonly) set up a punchline. The character should "matter."
Of the 17 films with LGBT characters, only seven passed the Vito Russo Test.
The study also notes that unlike films, "TV seems to have entered another golden age, where the programming is not only incredibly thematically diverse (and prolific), but is also fertile ground for creators to tell truly unique and innovative stories. Not by accident, it's also the best place in popular culture to find complex and resonant representations of LGBT people that connect with a mainstream audience."