GLAAD: Hollywood Films Portray Gay and Trans Characters as ‘Punchlines’

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GLAAD’s fourth annual Studio Responsibility Index (SRI) finds that major Hollywood film studios failed to adequately represent LGBT people in 2015 and also concluded that gay and trans characters for the year were too often used as “punchlines.”

According to GLAAD (formerly the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), only 22 of the 126 releases (17.5 percent) from major film studios in 2015 included characters who identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender.

The SRI notes the number of films with LGBT characters over the course of the year averaged to be the same as 2014 (17.5 percent), when 20 out of 114 films surveyed were inclusive of LGBT characters.

Of the 22 inclusive films, almost three quarters (73%) include less than ten minutes of screen time for LGBT characters. This lack of substantive characters is reflected in the historically low percentage of inclusive films…

The report takes particular issue with transgender representation in film, which it notes is “shockingly low with only one character.” That character’s brief appearance is also noted to be “a punchline to laugh at when her identity is revealed.”

The SRI also takes aim at films like Get Hard and Hot Tub Time Machine 2, which it claims obtained cheap laughs from gay stereotypes and “gay panic.”

Among the worst were the Kevin Hart-starring films Get Hard and The Wedding Ringer, which contain more blatant and incessant gay panic humor than we have seen in a Hollywood film in years. Significant defamatory content predicated on this type of humor was also found in the non-inclusive film Hot Tub Time Machine 2.

GLAAD suggests, “Humor can be a powerful tool for holding a mirror up to society and challenging the norm, but when crafted without thought, it has much the opposite effect and bolsters ignorance and prejudice.”

The SRI surveys the “quantity, quality, and diversity of images of LGBT people in films released by the seven largest studios,” and grades each studio based on its criteria.

The organization awarded Paramount, Disney, and Warner Bros. failing grades, while Lionsgate, Fox, Sony, and Universal received “adequate” grades.

No studio surveyed by GLAAD earned a rating for “good.”

While the organization concluded Hollywood representations of LGBT characters did not decrease, character portrayals for the year were more harmful than in 2014.

Warner Bros., which failed GLAAD’s 2015 survey, was named 2014’s most inclusive studio, with 7 of the company’s 22 films being LGBT-inclusive.

GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis said: “Leaving LGBT people out of the picture — or including them only as a punchline — keeps old prejudices alive and creates an unsafe environment, not only here in America, but around the world.”

Read the Studio Responsibility Index in full here.


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