Given that women and people of color are so underrepresented in Hollywood generally, this analysis revealing the diversity gap in sci-fi and fantasy films is not entirely surprising.
But some small, uncynical part of me thought that just maybe a genre that is entirely, utterly unbound to current realities would be slightly more diverse. Syreeta recently quoted the great Octavia Butler, whose sci-fi novels Hollywood should be adapting for the big screen all the time: “There are no real walls around science fiction. We can build them, but they’re not there naturally.”
But, nope–only 14 percent of the top 100 domestic grossing movies featured a female protagonist and only 8 percent featured a protagonist of color (6 out of 8 of whom were played by Will Smith, because Hollywood won’t even give us diversity in casting). None have been women of color or LGBTQ people, and only 1 percent have been people with disabilities.
“Hollywood has managed to market some weird stuff, like a tentpole movie about talking teenage turtle martial artists, or cars that change into space robots. I don’t buy that when it comes to marketing diverse leads, suddenly this giant industry can’t do it,” Marissa Lee, co-founder Racebending.com, notes. “There is a very small but vocal minority of people who want to maintain this status quo, and Hollywood seems to cater toward them due to institutionalized racism, fear, and habits. But there are just as many, if not more, people who are willing to support, vociferously, films with diverse leads.”
Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing.