Look around practically any city in the U.S. and you’ll see that we’re a country with tons of different races and ethnicities. This is not breaking news…it’s common knowledge, and it’s one of the reasons why the U.S. is so awesome. But hit up a movie theater and you’ll notice the world onscreen usually doesn’t look anything like the real world. What gives, Hollywood?
A new study at USC’s Annenberg School tackled Hollywood’s diversity problem by looking at the top-grossing movies of the last seven years (watching movies in the name of research = best job ever). What they found was painfully predictable: White characters made up almost three-quarters of all speaking roles. The numbers of African-American and Asian characters are definitely underrepresented, but they’re also on par with real-life census data. For example, Asians on-screen made up 4.4% of speaking roles and the Asian population is only 4.8% in the U.S. Plus, black characters are on the rise. Last year saw record numbers of speaking roles for black characters.
It’s Hispanic characters that are getting the short end of the stick. First of all, they’re super underrepresented in movies — only 4.9% of characters with speaking roles were Hispanic, compared to 16.3% of the U.S. population. Second, they’re also hypersexualized. The study looked at how characters were depicted sexually, how likely they were to be seen as attractive and how often they appeared naked onscreen. What they found was that Hispanic women in the movies are most likely to be naked, and Hispanic men are also the most likely to be sexualized.
Basically, this study is giving us one giant face palm. Bottom line is, Hollywood needs to get its s–t together and give more racial groups more speaking roles.