It’s hardly a secret that Hollywood has a diversity problem. But a new study breaks down exactly how the movies are—and sometimes aren’t—failing to reflect the reality of our multicultural society, and it brings some interesting facts to light.
The study looked at the 100 top-grossing films of the past seven years, and examined its characters with speaking parts. One pleasant surprise is that, while white males are still the go-to choice for lead characters, when comparing the percentage of characters to percentages of population, African-Americans are relatively well represented (14.1 percent of movie characters vs. 12.6 percent of the U.S. population), while Asians are only slightly underrepresented (4.4 percent vs. 4.8 percent).
Unsurprisingly, white people are very much over-accounted-for, making up 74.1 percent of movie characters. That dominance seems to come almost exclusively at the expense of Hispanics. America’s second-largest racial group comprises only 4.9 percent of movie characters, despite making up 16.3 percent of the population and a full quarter of the moviegoing public. In fact, the only demographic that fared worse were talking space raccoons, with no on-screen representation whatsoever from 2007-2013—although some progress has been made in the past few months.
In the few roles Hollywood does manage for them, Latinos are the most likely to be sexualized on screen, with both male and female actors more apt to be asked to be partially or fully naked. Some 37 percent of Latina actresses are sexualized on screen, well ahead of white (31.9 percent), black (23.5 percent) and Asian (18.2 percent) movie characters.
In other depressing trends, animation remains even less diverse than live-action film, with non-white characters making up only 15 percent of speaking parts. And while several African-American directors have reached newfound prominence in the last few years, their numbers overall have held steady at 6.5 percent, and of the 600 top-grossing films of the last seven years, only two were directed by black women. And, of course, Hollywood can make a comic-book movie about a raccoon and talking tree, but not one about a girl. So yeah, there’s still some work to be done.
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