GLAAD has released their second annual studio responsibility index, which tracks LGBT representation in major Hollywood films. Like last year, the report found a lack of LGBT representation in movies; additionally, a lot of the representation was negative:
Out of the 102 releases GLAAD counted from the major studios in 2013, 17 of them (16.7%) contained characters or impressions identified as either lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. In most cases, these characters received only minutes – or even seconds – of screen time, and were often offensive portrayals.
Over half of LGBT characters were gay men, and 76% were white. None of the LGBT characters in major studio releases were leads. There were no LGBT characters in major studio animated or family oriented movies in 2013. I guess Hollywood is still afraid of teaching kids teh gay??
Paramount Pictures and Warner Brothers both received failing grades. Paramount only released two films with gay characters, both of which featured violence against disposable gay male characters. Warner Bros released two homophobic films and one with a barely there trans stereotype with one line. The only other trans “character” in a major release is a standard man in drag joke in a Lionsgate film. Focus Features, a subsidiary of Universal, did release a documentary about Wikileaks that includes footage of Chelsea Manning. Of course, they also released Dallas Buyers Club, featuring Jared Leto in drag as a stereotype of a trans woman. Sadly, I’m actually relieved there weren’t more negative portrayals of trans women – as I wrote about yesterday, we typically show up in pop media as punchlines. But of course it would be nice to see an actual positive portrayal of a trans woman, played by a trans woman.
GLAAD points out that LGBT representation continues to be better on TV – in fact, there are a growing number of complex lady characters and non-white lead characters on TV, too. No wonder box office is down – we’re all staying home enjoying the start of what I hope will be a golden age of inclusive representation on TV. Superhero movies and action franchises rarely feature LGBT characters, and that’s where Hollywood’s spending a lot of their money – LGBT characters typically show up in comedies. Major movie studios are hopefully starting to get that movies featuring good female characters do well. Looks like they better start to figure out that positive representations of diverse characters are good for business in general.
I’m glad GLAAD pays so much attention to the fact that many representations of LGBT characters are negative. As I wrote yesterday, representation of marginalized groups isn’t necessarily a good thing if it’s really just repeating tired and dangerous stereotypes. Queer and trans folks don’t just need more representation – we need good, humanizing representation that shows we’re people, not punchlines.
Hollywood, do better.
Jos Truitt is an Executive Director of Feministing.