Study reports movie-making suffering inclusion crisis, as television production begins to show signs of improvement
Women, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and those from ethnic minority backgrounds are suffering under an epidemic of invisibility in Hollywood, according to a damning new report on diversity released days before the 2016 Oscars.
Study authors said US film and television production was experiencing an ongoing inclusion crisis. The report by the Media, Diversity and Social Change Initiative at the University of Southern Californias (USC) Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism found that 87% of directors across 414 studied films and television shows were white. About half of these failed to include a single Asian or Asian-American character, and one fifth failed to include a single black character.
The prequel to OscarsSoWhite is HollywoodSoWhite, study co-author Stacy L Smith told the Hollywood Reporter. We dont have a diversity problem. We have an inclusion crisis. When we start to step back to see this larger ecology, I think we see a picture of exclusion. And it doesnt match the norms of the population of the United States.
Only a third of speaking characters across the studied films and television shows were female, and only 28.3% were from ethnic minority backgrounds, around 10% less than the relevant figure among the general US population. Older characters were even more likely to be male, with only 25.7% of those over 40 being female. Just 2% of speaking characters identified as LGBT.
Among the most damning statistics, only 3.4% of the 109 films released by major studios in 2014 were directed by women, and only two were black women.
The study, named the Comprehensive Annenberg Report on Diversity, examined more than 300 scripted, first-run TV and digital series across 31 networks and streaming services that aired from September 2014 to August 2015. It found that small-screen producers were moving ahead of their film counterparts when it comes to diversity.
The authors, who have been reporting on the subject for more than a decade, found that none of the six major Hollywood movie studios boasted better than 20% figures for female, minority and LGBT characters and female writers and directors. The report found the film industry still functions as a straight, white, boys club. However, a number of television producers, including Disney, the CW, Amazon and Hulu, all posted scores of 65% and above.
When we turn to see where the problem is better or worse, the apex to this whole endeavour is: Everyone in film is failing, all of the companies investigated, said Smith. Theyre impervious to change. But there are pockets of promise in television. There is a focus that change is possible. The very companies that are inclusive Disney, CW, Hulu, Amazon to some degree those companies, if theyre producing and distributing motion pictures, can do this. We now have evidence that they can, and they can thrive.
Hollywood diversity has been under the microscope after Oscars body the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences failed to nominate a single person of colour for acting awards for a second year in a row. Ahead of the 2016 ceremony on 28 February at the Dolby theatre in Los Angeles, Spike Lee, Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, Tyrese Gibson and Michael Moore are among the notable figures who have called for a boycott or signalled that they will be staying away in protest.
Last month, the Academy moved to introduce radical rule changes aimed at doubling voting representation among female and ethnic minority demographics by 2020. Oscars organisers have also promised the 2016 ceremony will be the most diverse ever, with presenters including actors Morgan Freeman, Kerry Washington, Priyanka Chopra and Lee Byung-hun, as well as musician John Legend and producer Quincy Jones.
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