As it stands, Girls Trip is one of the funniest movies of 2017 and Wonder Woman has been owning the summer, shocking Hollywood by becoming the highest grossing film directed by a woman (Patty Jenkins). While that may seem like triumphant feat for both movies, it only further highlights a problem that continues to plague the industry.
Ultimately, the lack of inclusion and diversity is an issue that continues to garner social and media attention. And unfortunately — in an interview with Variety — USC's founder and director of Media, Diversity, & Social Change Initiative, Dr. Stacy L. Smith, said that the studios are still failing to get the message:
"These are embarrassing findings to a progressive industry that cares deeply about inclusion. The activism is clearly not reaching studio decision makers.”
From 2007 to 2016 (excluding 2011), the USC study analyzed nearly 40,000 characters from 900 films, including the top 100 movies of 2016. The results concluded that representations among the #LGBT community, race, gender, and disability across the film industry hadn't changed. In fact, the number of women that had speaking roles hadn't changed from 2015 to 2016 with just 31.4 percent, albeit a 1.4 percent increase from 2007.
What's even more alarming is that only 34 out of 100 movies in 2016 had a female lead or co-lead, which is just two more than 2015. In addition to the low number of leads, there weren't any female speaking roles from the LGBTQ or Hispanic/Latino community in 72 out of 100 films in 2016. And sadly, women aren't the only group being excluded from films.
70 Percent Of Speaking Roles Went To White Actors
Despite movies like Queen of Katwe, Moonlight, Jungle Book, Moana, and Fences, 2016 wasn't as racially diverse as we might have thought. The USC study showed that over 70 percent of speaking roles were white, 16.3 percent were African American, 5.7 percent were Asian, and just 3.1 percent were of Hispanic/Latino heritage. And all of this comes despite the fact that both Asian and African Americans went to the movies more in 2016 than in 2015.
According to Variety, the 5.6 million African Americans that went to the movies doubled since the previous year, making up 15 percent of moviegoers. Similarly, 3.9 million Asians went to the movies.
Should Hollywood Studios Take Affirmative Action?
Behind the camera, things haven't faired much better for studios like #Disney until Ryan Coogler's #BlackPanther. Women only make up 4.2 percent of directors and 1.7 percent of composers and it appears that no matter how much fans complain about the lack of diversity (or celebrities like Jada Pinkett Smith boycott the Oscars), Hollywood studios aren't budging. The question is, what can be done to change it? Should studios be forced to take affirmative action on the matter?
Ultimately, it shouldn't have to come to that, but with the lack of inclusion and the unbalanced diversity scale, a solution is needed. We'll see if things will improve over the next nine to ten years, but we shouldn't have to wait that long.
What do you think should be done to increase diversity? Please leave a comment below.