January 23, 2021

New Report From USC Annenberg “Finds Popular Films Show Paltry Progress Toward Inclusion”

From the USC Annenberg:

In the midst of ongoing protests against racial injustice, a new study shows Hollywood movies perpetuate a lack of inclusive representation of those from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups, girls and women, the LGBTQ community, and individuals with disabilities.

The report, from Professor Stacy L. Smith and the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at USC Annenberg, is the most comprehensive and intersectional look at film, having examined 57,629 characters in 1,300 top films from 2007 to 2019.

The study charts an increase in leading and/or co-leading characters from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups, from 27 films in 2018 to 32 films in 2019. Seventeen movies featured a girl or woman from an underrepresented group as a lead or co lead character in 2019 compared to just 11 in 2018, 4 in 2017 and 1 in 2007. Forty-three of 2019’s 100 top films had a girl or woman in a leading or co-leading role, a slight uptick from 39 in 2018 and a larger gain from 20 in 2007. However, only three films had a leading or co-leading role filled by a woman aged 45 or older, and only one of these roles went to a woman of color.

Despite the gains for protagonists, when it comes to all speaking characters, there has been little to no progress in 13 years. The percentage of female-identified speaking characters has not meaningfully increased since 2007, reaching only 34% in 2019. Similarly, 34.3% of speaking characters were from underrepresented groups, which is below the U.S. population and a slight decrease from 2018. The overall ecosystem of cinematic storytelling is still one in which girls, women and people of color are marginalized and minimized.

Direct to Complete Summary/News Release

Direct to Full Text Report
42 pages; PDF.

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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