It goes without saying that Hollywood sucks at representing minorities, but in a world where statistics are king, it’s not enough to merely state the obvious. No, you need charts, graphs, percentages, and statistical models to drive home the point and hope that maybe someone at the top gets the message. You may recall that we recently covered UCLA’s Diversity Report, which painted a pretty bleak panorama for Latinos in film and on TV, tinged with a vague glimmer of hope that things are getting better.
Now we have another report from UCLA’s South Central rivals at USC, where the Annenberg School of Media and Journalism has continued building on their groundbreaking studies as part of their Media, Diversity, & Social Change Initiative. Their latest publication is entitled “Inequality in 700 Popular Films: Examining Portrayals of Gender, Race, & LGBT Status from 2007 to 2014.” And that’s exactly what it does. The annual report – published every year since 2008 – took the top 100 grossing of films of 2014 and assessed every speaking character to determine not only how many women, gender, and ethnic minorities made it onscreen, but also how they were represented.
The findings are probably not too far off from what you would expect, but still it’s interesting to see it all broken down. Here are five rather unsurprising but equally annoying tidbits we took out of the 30-page report.
Latinos are the Most Underrepresented Ethnic Group on Screen
Yes, we Latinos are 17.1 percent of the U.S. population, yet somehow managed to have less onscreen representation than Asians, who total 5.3 percent of the population. According to the report 4.9 percent of speaking parts in 2014 went to Latino characters, while an impressively representative 5.3 percent went to Asians.
'The Book of Life' Killed It
According to the report, the most impressive growth in minority representation was in the world of animated films, which has seen an increase of 25.4 percent since 2007 – up from a low of 1.5 percent in 2010. Even so, over half the minority characters in 2014 animated films came from the Book of Life. Yes, that’s one movie. Better than nothing, I guess.
Hollywood Is a Boys' Club
But we already knew that. Of the paltry 4.9 percent representation Latinos had in the top-grossing movies of 2014, 68.5 percent of the characters were male. Still, that’s better than white (70.5 percent) and black (69.2 percent) representation, but Asians took the top prize for gender parity with 67.4 percent.
Hollywood Execs Love Latinas in Sexy Attire
I think we’d all be interested to know how the folks at Annenberg defined “sexy attire,” but Latin women were at the top of the Hollywood hypersexualization game. A little over 30 percent of Latina characters qualified as appearing in sexy attire, compared to 29 percent of black female characters, 27.5 percent of white female characters, and 25.7 percent of Asian female characters. Oddly, when it came to being “referenced as attractive,” Latinas were in second-to-last place with 9.7 percent.
But They Feel Threatened by Latino Men
At least that’s our explanation of why Latino males were in second-to-last place for “sexy attire” and “exposed skin,” with six percent in both instances. We did manage to bump up a slot to second place in the “referenced attractive” category with nearly four percent, behind black males. Meanwhile Asians have plenty to be indignant about in this category with a truly shameful 0.7 percent. Says a lot about how Americans form their sexual preferences.