This New Study On Inequality In Hollywood Is Scary

by Orli Matlow

BREAKING NEWS: Hollywood still favors characters, actors and creators who are heterosexual white men, and equality in Hollywood is still nonexistent. Straight white men have been dominant in the film industry since the dawn of time — and, well, human history — but, apparently, the inequality in Hollywood is even worse than previously assumed. Case-in-point: A recent study from the University of Southern California revealed staggering inequality in Hollywood. In a 30-page article called, "Inequality in 700 Popular Films: Examining Portrayals of Gender, Race, & LGBT Status from 2007 to 2014," the study shows how unequal Hollywood is — in all the areas of gender, race and ethnicity, and sexual orientation.

As the abstract at the beginning of the paper explains: "A total of 700 films and 30,835 characters have been analyzed across the 100 top‐grossing films of 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2014 (excluding 2011). All speaking or named characters were assessed for demographics, domestic traits, and hypersexualization." In other words: This is a thorough look at just how unequal things in Hollywood are.

Here are the most important facts from the study. Forewarning: they will make you angry about the state of Hollywood:

Only 30 Percent Of Speaking Characters Were Women

"Only 30.2% of the 30,835 speaking characters evaluated were female across the 700 top‐grossing films from 2007 to 2014," the study revealed.

In 2014, No Female Actor Over 45 Had A Lead Role

As the study detailed: "The class of women most likely to be marginalized in movies was women 40 to 64 years of age. This is no surprise, yet it may contribute to and reinforce ageism and sexism in screenwriting as well as industry casting and hiring. Further, these patterns may perpetuate implicit biases in viewers." In other words, the ageism and sexism epidemic in the Hollywood system is even worse than previously thought. The latter half of 2015 might have brought us multiple Meryl Streep films — but still less opportunity for other older actresses.

In 2014, No Female Leads Were Lesbian Or Bisexual

Of the little roles that there already are for lesbian and bisexual characters, in 2014, zero of them went beyond heterosexuality. Zero. Nilch.

Females Were More Likely Than Males To Be Shown In Sexual Attire

The study detailed of films in 2014: "27.9 percent of females vs. eight percent of males" were shown in sexualized clothing. Nudity went to "26.4 percent of females vs. 9.1 percent of males," and "12.6 percent of females vs. 3.1 percent of males" were referred to as sexually attractive.

Female Teens Were Just As Likely to Be Sexualized as Female Young Adults

"Examining patterns of sexualization by age in 2014 revealed that female teens (13‐20 year olds) were just as likely to be sexualized as young adult females (21‐39 year olds). Middle‐aged females (40‐64 year olds) were less likely than these two groups to be sexualized," the study explained.

In 2014, Only 15.8 Percent Of Writers, Directors, And Producers Were Women

The study explained: "Women only accounted for 1.9 percent of directors, 11.2 percent of writers, and 18.9 percent of producers. Put differently, only two women directed across the 100 top films of 2014. This is not different from 2013 (two female directors across 100 top films) or 2007 (three female directors across 100 top films). Twenty‐eight women have worked as directors across the 700 top films from 2007 to 2014. Only three were African American."

Acting Roles Were 73 Percent White In 2014

As for the characters who were not white, "4.9 percent were Hispanic/Latino, 12.5 percent were Black, 5.3 percent were Asian, 2.9 percent were Middle Eastern, less than one percent were American Indian/Alaskan Native or Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and 1.2 percent were from “other” racial and/or ethnic groupings."

4.7 Percent Of Directors Of The Top 100 Of 2014 Were Black

Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

"One Black director helmed two pictures and only one was female. Only 45 Black directors have been attached to the 700 top‐grossing films. This represents 5.8% of all helmers in the years analyzed," the study explained.

19 Of The 4,610 Speaking Characters In The 100 Top Films Of 2014 Were LGBT

The study elaborated: "Not one Transgender character was portrayed. Ten characters were coded as Gay, four were Lesbian, and five were Bisexual."

While television may be moving forward in gender, race, and LGBTQ representation, film is lagging far behind. People look to films to reflect society and tell stories about the world around us — and, clearly, film needs to fulfill that role better than it has been.

Images: Giphy (4), USC (2)