According to Professor Stacy L. Smith, author of a new study on inclusion in 900 top movies of the last decade, “Privilege still speaks, as white, straight, able-bodied men remain the norm on screen in film.”
The report “Inequality in 900 Popular Films,” released today, from Smith and the Media, Diversity & Social Change (MDSC) Initiative at USC Annenberg, reveals how little top movies have changed when it comes to the on-screen prevalence and portrayal of females, underrepresented racial/ethnic groups, the LGBT community and individuals with disabilities. The study is the largest and most comprehensive intersectional analysis of characters in motion picture content to date. The investigation examined the 900 top films from 2007 to 2016 (excluding 2011), analyzing 39,788 characters for gender, race/ethnicity, LGBT status and disability. The analysis included the 100 top movies of 2016. The results reveal that there has been little to no meaningful change in the representation of these diverse groups in popular movie content since 2015.
The top-line statistics show just how much progress has stalled in Hollywood. Across all 9 years examined, less than one-third of speaking characters on screen were girls/women, including just 31.4% of characters in the 100 top movies of 2016. Characters from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups were 29.2% of all characters in the top-grossing films of 2016, which is not different from 2015, but does reflect an increase from 2007. While there has been a decrease in the percentage of White characters from 2007, there has been no meaningful change in the percentage of Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian/Asian American, or Mixed Race/other characters since that year.