It’s not been a great year for LGBTQ+ representation in major movie releases, basically.
An alarming new report has identified that the number of characters representing the LGBTQ+ community in movie releases by the seven big film studios has dramatically dropped in the past year.
GLAAD’s sixth annual Studio Responsibility Index (SRI) saw that there was more than an 18 per cent drop in the number of films released by the big studios in 2017 to feature LGBTQ+ characters, falling from 23 in 2016 to a mere 14.
Another crucial statistic to point out from the findings in the report is that there were zero transgender characters in any films released by 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures, Walt Disney Studios and Warner Brothers, as well as films released by four subsidiaries of these major studios. This is down from the one character featured in 2016, who even then only served as a punchline.
Whilst general LGBTQ+ representation is substantially down year on year, an increase in racial diversity amongst its LGBTQ+ characters is some welcomed news. The majority of LGBTQ+ characters were people of colour, making up for 57 per cent of all characters. However, there were no Asian/Pacific Islander LGBTQ+ characters featured in any of 2017’s major studio releases.
As part of GLAAD’s research for the report, films are graded by the Vito Russo Test in order to analyse how LGBTQ+ characters are included within each film. To pass the test, each film must contain an identifiably LGBTQ+ or queer character, that character must not be solely defined by their sexual orientation or gender identity, and they must play a significant role in the film.
Out of the 109 films reviewed by GLAAD and released by the seven major studios, only nine passed the Vito Russo test. These films are:
- Alien: Covenant (20th Century Fox)
- Beauty and the Beast (Walt Disney Pictures)
- CHiPS (Warner Brothers)
- Get Out (Universal Pictures)
- Kingsman: The Golden Circle (20th Century Fox)
- Hazlo Como Hombre (Lionsgate Entertainment)
- Rough Night (Sony Pictures)
- Un Padre No Tan Padre (Lionsgate Entertainment)
- xXx: The Return of Xander Cage (Paramount Studios)
Despite many origin stories in their comic book counterparts often featuring identifiable LGBTQ+ characters, no comic book adaptations passed the test or were graded favourably for their representation. Both ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ and ‘Wonder Woman’ featured characters who identify as queer in their comic book formats, yet their movie characterisations failed to ever mention this.
Recent queer films to have performed exceptionally well in the past year, most notably including Call Me By Your Name, the Shape of Water, a Fantastic Woman, and God’s Own Country, were all released by independent or imprint studios and were therefore ineligible to be graded as part of the major studio test.
Speaking about the findings from the report, Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President and CEO, said:
With wildly successful films like Wonder Woman and Black Panther proving that audiences want to see diverse stories that haven’t been told before, there is simply no reason for major studios to have such low scores on the Studio Responsibility Index. At a time when the entertainment industry is holding much needed discussions about inclusion, now is the time to ensure the industry takes meaningful action and incorporates LGBTQ stories and creators as among priorities areas for growing diversity.
20th Century Fox and Universal Pictures both received an ‘Insufficient’ rating; Paramount Pictures, Sony Entertainment, and Walt Disney received ‘Poor’ ratings; and Lionsgate Entertainment and Warner Brothers received ‘Failing’ ratings.