Hollywood is majorly “whitewashed” and “still functions as a straight, white, boy’s club,” according to a new study.
The recently conducted Comprehensive Annenberg Report on Diversity at USC is one of the most thorough and critical reports on the “inclusion crisis” in Hollywood, examining 10 major media companies including Netflix, 21st Century Fox and Disney for over 10 years.
The results showed an “epidemic of invisibility” across film, digital and TV platforms and a huge difference between Hollywood’s representation and the American population that tune into its content. 109 major films, 305 TV/digital series, over 11,000 characters, 10,000 directors, writers and creators and 1,500 executives were examined as part of the study.
Only a third of characters across the films and TV series were female and only 28.3 percent were minorities. 50 percent of the examined content featured no Asian characters at all and 20 percent had zero Black characters. 87 percent of film directors were white and in TV this percentage goes up to 90.4 percent. This has led to an argument for less tokenism on screen and suggestions of public quotas, checks and balance systems have come into play.
Female directors, writers and creators in television were less than 29 percent, but in film this went down to 3.4 percent. Two out of 109 film directors were Black women. Only 20 percent of the executives were women and characters over the age of 40 were mainly male. As a result, gender discrimination in Hollywood has now become a federal case for investigation via the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Co-author of the study Katherine Pieper comments: “As prestige or power of the title increases, we see fewer women at the top.”
Shockingly only 2 percent of characters identified as LGBT and only seven characters were transgender, four of which were from the same series. It is a way deeper issue than just #OscarsSoWhite, the whole industry is systemically exclusive of women, minorities and LGBT members. Academy President, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, recently announced new strategies to tackle this problem. She stated that the academy is going to lead the way and “not wait for the industry to catch up.”
The USC study determined that the film industry is particularly worse than its small screen counterpart. None of the film companies had more than 20 percent diversity and Time Warner had none at all. TV and digital companies performed better with 65 percent and above. The success of diverse TV programming is a clear beacon of hope for the future of the industry, but let’s just hope that these big shots take note.
Co-author of the study, Stacy Smith, concluded with this: “People are still [being] erased. It’s 2016 and it’s time for a change. We’ve laid out concrete actionable steps because we don’t want to do this again in 10 years.” Amen to that.