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GLAAD Chides Fox, Disney and Paramount in Annual Report on LGBT Representation in Film

"The film industry must embrace new and inclusive stories if it wants to remain competitive and relevant."

GLAAD released its fourth annual Studio Responsibility Index on Monday, lamenting the sharp decrease in LGBT characters represented in big-production films, as well as the lack of racial diversity of LGBT characters that appeared on screen in 2015.

The document includes statistics regarding the quantity, quality and diversity of images of LGBT people released by the seven top production studios in the past year.

GLAAD reported that 22 (17.5 percent) of the 126 films released by these companies in 2015 included LGBT characters, the same proportion that was recorded in 2014.

“Hollywood’s films lag far behind any other form of media when it comes to portrayals of LGBT characters,” GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis wrote in an open letter published concurrently with the report. “Too often, the few LGBT characters that make it to the big screen are the target of a punchline or token characters. The film industry must embrace new and inclusive stories if it wants to remain competitive and relevant.”

None of the studios examined in the report received a “Good” rating on the 2015 report card, according to GLAAD. Twentieth Century Fox, Lionsgate Entertainment, Sony Columbia Pictures and Universal Pictures all earned an “Adequate” score.

Other companies were not treated as kindly. Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures and Walt Disney all received “Failing” grades. GLAAD reported that both Paramount and Disney failed to include any LGBT characters in their 2015 films.

The LGBT group also observed that transgender representation in films is “shockingly low,” noting only one transgender character in a 2015 mainstream release, whose “brief appearance served as a punchline to laugh at when her identity is revealed.”

Of the 22 films GLAAD deemed inclusive, 16 (73 percent) included less than 10 minutes of screen time for LGBT characters.

The group bemoaned a “noticeable resurgence of outright offensive depictions of LGBT people, which relied on gay panic and defamatory stereotypes for cheap laughs.”

Specifically noted were two Kevin Hart films, “Get Hard” and “The Wedding Ringer,” which featured “more blatant and incessant gay panic humor than we have seen in a Hollywood film in years,” according to GLAAD.

In light of its annual findings, the group called for more LGBT roles that have “substance and purpose” and more racial diversity, which it considers at this point to be “dismal.”

GLAAD also expressed the desire to see more mainstream Hollywood films pass its “Vito Russo Test” in the coming years.

The test, which was named after the GLAAD cofounder and film historian, assesses how LGBT characters are portrayed in works of fiction — whether it contains an LGBT character, if that character is defined by more than their sexual orientation and whether the character has a significant role in a film’s story line. Only eight of the 22 major films that featured LGBT characters in 2015 passed this test, or 36 percent, compared to the 55 percent that passed in 2014.

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