LGBT people are ‘used as punchlines in big Hollywood films’

Steph Kyriacou September 18, 2017
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LGBTQ+ people are either invisible or used as punchlines in big Hollywood films, according to a new report released by GLAAD.

The report showed that “only 23 out of 125 films tracked from 2016 contain LGBTQ+ characters”.

There was also a “notable drop in the percentage of LGBTQ characters of colour.”

Ellen Page in Flatliners
Ellen Page in Flatliners (Sony Pictures Entertainment)

There was good news for LGBT media last night at the Emmy Awards, with openly lesbian writer Lena Waithe becoming the first black woman to win for comedy writing.

Black Mirror’s iconic lesbian love story San Junipero picked up two awards, while Kate McKinnon won for best supporting actress in a comedy.

But when it comes to films, LGBT people are still horrendously underrepresented.

GLAAD president and CEO Kate Ellis said: “With many of the most popular TV shows proudly including LGBTQ characters and stories, the time has come for the film industry to step up and show the full diversity of the world that movie audiences are living in today instead and end the outdated humour seen in many films.”

She added that “films like Moonlight prove there is a huge opportunity to not only tell LGBTQ stories worthy of Oscar gold, but to open the hearts and minds of audiences here and around the world in places where these stories can be a lifeline to the people who need it most.”

LGBT people are ‘used as punchlines in big Hollywood films’
Twitter: DubiousCA

Moonlight of course won Best Picture at the Oscars last year, amid controversial, confusing scenes.

Despite films like Moonlight, GLAAD reported that gay men are still the most represented group in the LGBTQ+ community.

Lesbian representation, however, rose from 23% in 2015 to 35% within inclusive films.

Bisexual representation was seen in 13% of LGBTQ+ movies, but bisexual erasure is still a big problem.

See, for example, Harley Quinn’s bisexuality being completely written out of Suicide Squad.

Transgender representation on screen remains extremely low, with only one trans character counted in the report –
the same number as 2015 – with this character being used for comedic purposes in Zoolander 2.

Megan Townsend, director of entertainment research and analysis at GLAAD, told NBC News: “Representation matters.

“When LGBTQ+ people are left off screen, it sends the message that we don’t matter or that we don’t exist — both of which are dangerous.

“It’s also crucial for young LGBTQ+ people to see themselves reflected in the media.”

It seems that fans agree.

LGBT people are ‘used as punchlines in big Hollywood films’
Twitter: Hajabeg
LGBT people are ‘used as punchlines in big Hollywood films’
Twitter: ingridnilsen
LGBT people are ‘used as punchlines in big Hollywood films’
Twitter: DanaPiccoli

“Even five years later, Hollywood is failing LGBTQ+ people and lagging far, far behind other forms of media like television and streaming content.”

Despite 2017 having a few talked-about LGBTQ+ movie moments in films like ‘Power Rangers’ and ‘Beauty and the Beast’, the summer film season continued to showcase a large amount of LGBTQ+ invisibility.

GLAAD also noted a lack of racial diversity in film, with the numbers decreasing rapidly year after year. 2016 saw only 20% of non-white LGBTQ+ characters, compared to 25.5% in 2015 and 32.1% in 2014.

The recent report also contributed suggestions for the film industry and how to amp up their inclusivity.

These suggestions included:
– For the studio to not only include more LGBTQ+ characters, but to have their roles be directly tied into the plot.
– For more non-white LGBTQ+ characters – the success of films like ‘Moonlight’ shows that there is an audience for these stories.
– To write more serious stories for transgender characters.
– To stop writing stereotyped LGBTQ+ characters and just using them as punchlines.

LGBT people are ‘used as punchlines in big Hollywood films’
Twitter: queermurphys

Black LGBTQ+ filmmaker Sekiya Dorsett said she actively uses her own work to challenge the lack of representation in media.

When asked about major studio films, she said: “There hadn’t been a moment where queer women of colour weren’t suffering but simply living on screen. Every part of my work moves to push the queer experience forward and show it from a new perspective.”

More: diversity, entertainment, Film Reviews, films, GLAAD, Hollywood, inclusivity, lgbtq+ representation, Media, movies, US

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