The truth is that it has never been a closely guarded secret that Hollywood is predominantly white and male. With the recent study “Inequality in 700 Popular Films,” conducted by the Media, Diversity, & Social Initiative at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, people can verify the unequal portrayal of woman, ethnic or racial minorities, and those of the LGBT community.
The studies found that out of 100 films last year, only 21 featured a female as a lead or co-lead. Furthermore when a female actress graced the screen, they were objectified and sexualized. Females were 11.6 % more likely than their counterparts to be portrayed as caregivers (reinforcing a stereotype), 19.9 % more likely to be dressed provocatively, and 17.3% more likely to be unclothed or partially clothed. Studies have shown that the negative perception and objectification of females on screen has caused harmful effects, such as self-loathing and body image issues amongst girls and women.
From those 100 films, not even half of those portrayals represented the LGBT community. There were zero transgender characters, five bisexuals, four lesbian, and ten gays. Based on the National Health Interview Survey, that representation is lower than the actual population of the LGBT community in the United States.
Within those 100 films the equal representation of race and ethnicity was lacking, less than 1% were “American Indian/Alaskan Native or Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander”, 1.2% were from the “other” category of race/ethnic groupings, 2.9% were “Middle Eastern”, 4.9% were “Hispanic/Latino”, 5.3% were “Asian”, 12.5% were “Black”, and 73.1% were “White”. The report illustrates that the representation of race/ethnicity has not changed within the past seven years.
Equal and correct representation is important. It develops self-awareness, produces role models for the youth, broadens people’s assumptions (many films depicts minorities with negative stereotypes), it demolishes the idea that straight/white/male is normal and everyone else is not, and overall it provides a more realistic look at the population. The media needs to represent all of America, not just the portion it has in the past.
Image via Entertainment Weekly