Media, Diversity, & Social Change Initiative characters across 800 of the most popular movies from...

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  • Inequality in 800 Popular Films: Examining Portrayals of Gender, Race/Ethnicity,

    LGBT, and Disability from 2007-2015

    Dr. Stacy L. Smith, Marc Choueiti, & Dr. Katherine Pieper

    Media, Diversity, & Social Change Initiative

    Ariana Case & Justin Marsden

    with assistance from

    September 2016

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    © Dr. Stacy L. Smith     September 2016   

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    Inequality in 800 Popular Films:  Examining Portrayals of Gender, Race/Ethnicity, LGBT, and Disability from 2007‐2015 

      Dr. Stacy L. Smith, Marc Choueiti, & Dr. Katherine Pieper 

    with assistance from  Ariana Case & Justin Marsden  

      Yearly, the Media, Diversity, & Social Change (MDSC) Initiative examines inequality on screen and  behind the camera across the 100 top‐grossing domestic films. To date, we have evaluated 35,205  characters across 800 of the most popular movies from 2007‐2015.  Every independent speaking or  named character on screen was assessed for gender, race/ethnicity, and LGBT status as well as a  variety of demographic, domesticity, and sexualization measures. In 2015, we began assessing the  portrayal of character disability as well. Clearly, this is the most comprehensive and rigorous  intersectional analysis of independent speaking and named characters in popular motion picture  content to date.      

    Key Findings    Gender. Out of 4,370 speaking or named characters evaluated, 68.6% were male and 31.4% were female  across the 100 top‐grossing films of 2015. This calculates into a gender ratio of 2.2 male characters to  every one female character.  There has been no meaningful change in the percentage of girls and women  on screen between 2007 and 2015. 

    Of the 100 top films of 2015, 32% depicted a female as the lead or co lead of the unfolding narrative. This  is an 11% increase from last year. Five of these films portrayed female leads/co leads 45 years of age or  older at the time of theatrical release in 2015. In stark contrast, 26 movies in 2015 featured leads or co  leads with males 45 years of age or older.      Females were over three times as likely as their male counterparts to be shown in sexually revealing  clothing (30.2% vs. 7.7%) and with some nudity (29% vs. 9.5%). Girls/women (12%) were also more likely  than boys/men (3.6%) to be referred to as physically attractive.      Female teens (42.9%) and young adults (38.7%) were more likely than middle‐aged females (24.7%) to be  shown in sexualized attire. A similar pattern emerged for nudity (41.2%, 36.9%, and 24.4%, respectively).  As age increased, females were less likely to be referenced as attractive.    Of the 1,365 directors, writers, and producers of the 100 top‐grossing films of 2015, 81% were men and  19% were women. Of 107 directors, 92.5% were male and 7.5% were female. This translates into a  gender ratio of 12.4 male directors to every one female director. Women fare slightly better as writers  (11.8%) and producers (22%) but far worse as composers. Only 1 female composer but 113 male  composers worked across the sample of 100 movies of 2015!     Across 800 films and 886 directors, only 4.1% were women. This translates into a gender ratio of 24 males  to every 1 female. Only 3 Black and 1 Asian female directors worked on the 800 films examined. Even  more problematic, only 1.4% of all composers were women from 2007 to 2015 (excluding 2011). This  translates into a gender ratio of 72 male composers to every 1 female composer.   

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    © Dr. Stacy L. Smith     September 2016   

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    Race/Ethnicity. In 2015, 73.7% of characters were White, 12.2% Black, 5.3% Latino, 3.9% Asian, 

  • Prevalance of female speaking characters across 800 films, in percentages

    Of the 100 top films in 2015...

    Ratio of males to females

    Total number of speaking

    characters

    MEDIA, DIVERSITY, & SOCIAL CHANGE INITIATIVE USC ANNENBERG

    32

    FEMALES ARE GROSSLY UNDERREPRESENTED IN FILM

    FEMALES ARE SELDOM AT THE CENTER OF THE STORY IN FILM

    nitiative

    2.3 : 1

    35,205

    Percentage of 800 films with

    Balanced Casts 12%

    DEPICTED A FEMALE LEAD OR CO LEAD

    And of those Leads and Co Leads*...

    3 5

    FEMALE ACTORS WERE FROM UNDERREPRESENTED RACIAL ETHNIC GROUPS

    FEMALE ACTORS WERE AT LEAST AGE OR OLDER

    29.9 30.3 28.1 31.429.228.4

    32.8 32.8

    FEMALES FACE ROADBLOCKS IN ACTION, ANIMATION, & COMEDY

    ADVENTURE ANIMATION COMEDY

    20 20.9

    30.7 36 36 36.5

    26.823.3 25.5

    *Excludes films w/ensemble casts

    % OF FEMALE SPEAKING CHARACTERS

    % OF FEMALE SPEAKING CHARACTERS

    % OF FEMALE SPEAKING CHARACTERS

    MEDIA, DIVERSITY, & SOCIAL CHANGE INITIATIVE

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  • SEXY CONTINUES TO BE THE STATUS QUO FOR FEMALES IN FILM

    WHITE UNDERREPRESENTED

    SEXY ATTIRE SOME NUDITY ATTRACTIVE

    7.7%

    30.2%

    9.5%

    29%

    3.6%

    12%

    of the 100 top films of 2015...

    Top Films of 2015

    HAD NO LGBT CHARACTERS

    82

    18

    59.4% 40.6%

    LGBT CHARACTERS

    13-20 yr old females are just as likely as 21-39 yr old females to be shown in sexy attire & with

    some nudity.

    MEDIA, DIVERSITY, & SOCIAL CHANGE INITIATIVE

    49

    26.3% #OscarsSoWhite or #HollywoodSoWhite?

    17 FILMS HAVE NO BLACK OR AFRICAN AMERICAN SPEAKING CHARACTERS

    FILMS HAVE NO ASIAN SPEAKING CHARACTERS

    FILMS HAVE NO LATINO SPEAKING CHARACTERS40

    PERCENTAGE OF REPRESENTED CHARACTERS:

    *These percentages have not changed since 2007

    THE LGBT COMMUNITY: MOBILIZED IN THE U.S. BUT MISSING IN FILM

    speaking characters only...

    4,370 Of

    7 LESBIAN BISEXUALGAY

    TRANSGENDER

    1910 4 1

    55 0

    MALES

    FEMALES

    of the 32 LGBT characters...

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  • 220 female producers 1 female composer30 female writers8 female directors

    THE DIRECTOR'S CHAIR IS WHITE AND MALE

    BEHIND THE CAMERA IS BEHIND THE TIMES

    DIRECTORS WRITERS PRODUCERS COMPOSERS

    Across 1,365 content creators…. MALES FEMALES

    7.5% 22%

  • DIRECTORS

    OUT OF

    COMPOSERS

    FEMALE DIRECTORS AND COMPOSERS ARE CROPPED OUT OF FILM

    A SIMPLE SOLUTION TO GENDER INEQUALITY IN FILM

    TOTAL OVERALL

    Angelina Jolie

    Anne Fletcher

    Ava DuVernay

    Betty Thomas

    Brenda Chapman

    Catherine Hardwicke

    Diane English

    Elizabeth Allen Rosenbaum

    Elizabeth Banks

    Gina Prince-Bythewood

    Jennifer Flackett

    Jennifer Lee

    Jessie Nelson

    Julie Anne Robinson

    Julie Taymor

    Kathryn Bigelow

    Kimberly Peirce

    Kirsten Sheridan

    Lana Wachowski

    Lily Wachowski

    THERE ARE

    UNIQUE FEMALE DIRECTORS BETWEEN

    29

    48.9%

    31.4%

    51.1%68.6%

    Add Five Females to Scripts Per Year to Achieve Gender Equality Quickly

    Loveleen Tandan

    Nancy Meyers

    Niki Caro

    Nora Ephron

    Phyllida Lloyd

    Sam Taylor-Johnson

    Sanaa Hamri

    Shari Springer Berman

    Susanna White

    FEMALES MALES

    MEDIA, DIVERSITY, & SOCIAL CHANGE INITIATIVE

    (Excluding 2011)

    3

    112 112 111 109 121 107 107 107 886

    OUT OF 107 108 109 115 105 114 105 114 877

    9 4 3 5 2 2 8 36

    0 2 2 2 2 2 1 1 12

    OUT OF

    OUT OF

    4.1%

    1.4%

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    © Dr. Stacy L. Smith     September 2016   

    7

    Inequality in 800 Popular Films:  Examining Portrayals of Gender, Race/Ethnicity, LGBT, and Disability from 2007‐2015 

      Dr. Stacy L. Smith, Marc Choueiti, & Dr. Katherine Pieper 

    with assistance from  Ariana Case & Justin Marsden  

      Media, Diversity, & Social Change Initiative  

    USC Annenberg    Yearly, the Media, Diversity, & Social Change (MDSC) Initiative examines inequality on screen and  behind the camera across the 100 top‐grossing domestic films.1 To date, we have evaluated 800  of the most popular movies from 2007‐2015 (excluding 2011).2  Every independent speaking or  named character3 on screen is assessed for gender and race/ethnicity as well as a variety of  demographic, domesticity, and sexualization measures.4 In total, 35,205 characters have been  analyzed across eight years of cinematic content.        For the 2014 sample, the analysis was extended to include a qualitative assessment of Lesbian,  Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) characters. In 2015, LGBT statu