Published May 02, 2016For the fourth year running, advocacy group GLAAD has conducted an annual study on the representation of LGBT characters on Hollywood screens — and the dismal 2015 results have just been revealed.
Findings from the Studio Responsibility Index show that of the 126 major pictures released in theatres in 2015, only 22 included LGBT characters, leaving the meagre 17.5 percent figure completely unchanged from 2014.
No studio was given "good" marks, though Lionsgate, Sony, Universal and Fox were stamped with "adequate" ratings. Lionsgate received the best grades, for featuring LGBT characters in 33 percent of their films. Sony and Universal both tallied 19 percent, while Fox clocked in at 12 percent. Disney, Paramount and Warner Bros. all received failing grades.
Arguments for family-focused programming were pre-emptively dispelled in a statement from GLAAD, which explains, "LGBT people are already part of families and communities around the world, and films of all genres should reflect that."
GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis further argued that Disney's Marvel and LucasFilm releases presented unique opportunities to portray more diverse people onscreen given the entirely fictional environments in which the storylines exist. She suggested that LGBT characters should be incorporated into the Star Wars franchise's forthcoming films.
"2015's The Force Awakens has introduced a new and diverse central trio, which allows the creators opportunity to tell fresh stories as they develop their backstory," she said. "Recent official novels in the franchise featured lesbian and gay characters that could also be easily written in to the story."
Though 20 percent of Warner films featured LGBT characters, the studio is under fire for its portrayal of said characters. Two Kevin Hart films — Get Hard and The Wedding Ringer — were specifically targeted for offensive portrayals that featured "more blatant and incessant gay panic humor than we have seen in a Hollywood film in years."
Specialty labels fared slightly better, featuring LGBT characters in 10 of the 46 films released, increasing 2014's 10.6 percent average to 22 percent. Universal's Focus Features, which distributed The Danish Girl, topped the list at 30 percent, while Sony Pictures Classic hit 28 percent and Roadside Attractions hit 20 percent. Fox Searchlight's film roster depicted a whopping grand total of zero LGBT characters in 2015.
GLAAD is urging studios to not just increase, but improve onscreen diversity — pointing out that of the LGBT characters portrayed, 73 percent received less than ten minutes of screen time. 73 percent were also white, and 77 percent were male. Amongst the major studio releases from 2015, only one film featured a transgender character, "whose brief appearance served as a punchline."
According to GLAAD, "Films must do better to include LGBT characters in roles directly tied to plot and which reflect the wide diversity of our community, including people of color, those living with disabilities, and a variety of geographical and ideological backgrounds."
Watch a previously shared video expressing that sentiment below.