GLAAD’s annual report paints a grim picture of just how sparse, and stereotypical, Hollywood’s LGBTQ+ representation was in 2015.
GLAAD released its annual Studio Responsibility Index report Monday morning, and the results are grim — though sadly not unexpected if you’ve been keeping up with Hollywood’s blockbusters.
The Studio Responsibility Index examined 126 releases from major studios, and found that only 22 (17.5%) of them featured LGBT characters. According to GLAAD, this makes Hollywood “outdated compared to groundbreaking inclusion seen on streaming.”
The report gives failing grades to two major studios — Disney (including its behemoth subsidiaries Marvel and Lucasfilm) and Paramount — on account of their complete failure to include LGBTQ+ representation at all. That’s right. Not a single non-straight character featured in a major Disney or Paramount movie in 2015.
But it’s not just about erasure. There has also been “a noticeable resurgence of outright offensive depictions of LGBT” in Hollywood, jokes relying “on gay panic and defamatory stereotypes for cheap laughs.” The report specifically calls out Hot Tub Time Machine 2 as well as two Kevin Hart comedies, Get Hard and The Wedding Ringer, which all contained “more blatant and incessant gay panic humor than we have seen in a Hollywood film in years.”
Thus, despite featuring LGBT representation in 20% of its movies, Warner Bros. also fails the report, called out here for its astoundingly backwards and stereotypical portrayals of LGBT characters.
Although other studios did better in comparison (the ‘winner’ being Lionsgate, which featured LGBT characters in 33% of its movies), no studio received a grade beyond “Adequate.”
GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis points out the detrimental effects of both the stereotypical depictions of LGBT characters, and the sexuality erasure which Disney and Paramount are guilty of, saying, “Leaving LGBT people out of the picture — or including them only as a punchline — keeps old prejudices alive and creates an unsafe environment, not only here in America, but around the world.”
Interestingly (perhaps she read our Poe Dameron article), Ellis calls out Star Wars specifically as “the most obvious place where Disney could include LGBT characters” in future movies.
“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 says, also noting that “sci-fi projects have the special opportunity to create unique worlds whose advanced societies can serve as a commentary on our own.”
How ironic, that the Star Wars franchise should end up being our only hope.
Unfortunately, shaming only goes so far (GLAAD’s 2014 report showed exactly the same results), and as long as the giant studios continue to break box office records with non-inclusive audience-pleasers like Deadpool, Ant-Man and Captain America, there isn’t much incentive for Hollywood to stop relying on the straight white man narrative to sell tickets.
Whether it’s the studios or the audiences that catch on first, we’ll have to stay optimistic that Hollywood will eventually join us in the 21st century, forgoing cheap jokes and unnecessary erasure in order to maintain an outdated status quo.
As Ellis concludes in her report, “the film industry must embrace new stories reflective of the actual world if it wants to remain competitive and relevant.”