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Most gay characters get barely any screen time in Hollywood films

Joe Williams April 15, 2015

A report by GLAAD has found that the majority of depictions of LGBT characters in Hollywood films this year lasted less than five minutes.

The report, issued by the LGBT media charity, found that the majority of LGBT depictions in Hollywood films this year were either minor roles or restricted to cameos.

GLAAD’s third annual Studio Responsibility Index (SRI), a report that maps the quantity, quality, and diversity of images of LGBT people in films, found that of the 20 films deemed inclusive of LGBT characters, ten of those contained less than five minutes of screen time for their LGBT characters – with several being less than 30 seconds.

In the case of several films, audiences may not have even been aware that they were seeing LGBT characters if they were unaware of the real-life LGBT person a character was based on, or if they did not read outside coverage.

Most of the films featuring gay characters were comedies (42.1%), or animated films (23.8%), as opposed to the blockbuster, action or sci-fi films that garner larger audiences and profits for the film studios featured.

GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis warned that the film industry was in danger of being left behind – by failing to mirror the progress made by ground-breaking TV shows including Transparent and Orange is the New Black.

She said: “As television and streaming services continue to produce a remarkable breadth of diverse LGBT representations, we still struggle to find depictions anywhere near as authentic or meaningful in mainstream Hollywood film.

“The industry continues to look increasingly out of touch by comparison, and still doesn’t represent the full diversity of the American cultural fabric.”

The report, which studied releases from the seven major studios in 2014, found that 20 of the 114 movies (17.5%) that were released last year had characters who identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual.

This is slightly more from 2013, when that percentage was 16.7% (17 of 102 films). However, none of these films included a character who identified as transgender. The majority of these characters were gay men (65%), while a third (30%) featured bisexual characters and about one tenth (10%) including lesbian characters. The characters were also almost all white (19 characters or 67.9%).

Warner Brothers was the only studio to receive a “Good” score for its slate of films, which included the GLAAD Media Award-nominated film Tammy, with Sony Columbia Pictures and The Walt Disney Studios scored as “Failing.” No studio has yet received a grade of “Excellent.”

“While we were pleased to see Warner Brothers show real improvement in its LGBT-inclusive films in 2014, they also recently released the comedy ‘Get Hard,’ one of the most problematic films we have seen in some time. This glaring lack of consistency seems to be common amongst almost every major film studio, showing a need for greater oversight in how their films represent – or don’t represent – significant portions of their audience,” said Ellis.

“Only when they make those changes and catch up to other, more consistently inclusive media portrayals will we be able to say that America’s film industry is a full partner in accelerating acceptance.”

The film ‘Get Hard’, featuring WIll Ferrell, was recently slammed for featuring gay prison rape gags.

Ferrell defended the film from accusations of homophobia, saying: “Any time you’re going to do an R-rated comedy, you’re going to offend someone… that’s kind of what we do.”

More: Film Reviews, Gay, Hollywood, industry, LGBT, movie, Television, US

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