Entertainment News

Only 14 of 2017’s major Hollywood releases featured LGBTQ characters, study finds

The study, done by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, did not include such releases as ‘Call Me By Your Name’.

According to a survey by the media monitoring organisation, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, only 14 out of 109 Hollywood films released by major studies in 2017 featured gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer characters. That accounts for 12.8% of the total releases. In 2016, the tally stood at 18.4% of the major studio releases that featured LGBTQ characters. The number arrived at by the 2017 survey is the lowest since GLAAD began issuing annual reports in 2012.

The study, called the Studio Responsibility Index, also found that of the 14 Hollywood films of 2017 that featured LGBTQ characters, the characters were on screen for less than five minutes in seven of them.

A positive development was that 16 of the 28 LGBTQ characters identified by the study in 2017’s studio productions were people of colour. These accounted for 57% of the total characters, a significant rise from 2016, when 20% of the LGBTQ characters were people of colour.

Gay men accounted for 64% of the total characters accounted for by the study. While lesbians and bisexuals characters found representation, none of the characters were transgender people, the study found.

GLAAD reviews films and analyses the representation of LGBTQ characters in them based on the Vito Russo Test, named after the film historian and GLAAD co-founder. To pass the test, a film should contain a LGBTQ character who must not be particularly identified by their sexual orientation or gender identity, and upon the character’s removal, the film’s storyline should be significantly affected. Nine films i.e 64% of the 14 LGBTQ-inclusive major studio releases of 2017 were found to have passed the test.

None of the studios received positive reviews. The highest ranking went to Fox, whose film Alien: Covenant featured a gay couple aboard the spaceship, and Universal which featured a prominent lesbian character in its film Pitch Perfect 3. Disney, Paramount and Sony received “poor” grades while Warner Bros and Lionsgate were found to be “failing”.

The study also noted that two of 2017’s biggest hits, Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok and Warner Bros’ Wonder Woman, did not feature queer characters in spite of them being present in the source material.

However, the study did not take into account films released by the specialty departments at the major studios, such as the gay romance Call Me By Your Name, released by Sony Pictures Classics, and Billie Jean King biopic Battle of the Sexes, released by Fox Searchlight. The numbers would have been more positive had the study included smaller affiliates of the big studios such as Universal’s Focus and Lionsgate’s Roadside Attractions, The Hollywood Reporter noted.

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Do you really need to use that plastic straw?

The hazards of single-use plastic items, and what to use instead.

In June 2018, a distressed whale in Thailand made headlines around the world. After an autopsy it’s cause of death was determined to be more than 80 plastic bags it had ingested. The pictures caused great concern and brought into focus the urgency of the fight against single-use plastic. This term refers to use-and-throw plastic products that are designed for one-time use, such as takeaway spoons and forks, polythene bags styrofoam cups etc. In its report on single-use plastics, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has described how single-use plastics have a far-reaching impact in the environment.

Dense quantity of plastic litter means sights such as the distressed whale in Thailand aren’t uncommon. Plastic products have been found in the airways and stomachs of hundreds of marine and land species. Plastic bags, especially, confuse turtles who mistake them for jellyfish - their food. They can even exacerbate health crises, such as a malarial outbreak, by clogging sewers and creating ideal conditions for vector-borne diseases to thrive. In 1988, poor drainage made worse by plastic clogging contributed to the devastating Bangladesh floods in which two-thirds of the country was submerged.

Plastic litter can, moreover, cause physiological harm. Burning plastic waste for cooking fuel and in open air pits releases harmful gases in the air, contributing to poor air quality especially in poorer countries where these practices are common. But plastic needn’t even be burned to cause physiological harm. The toxic chemical additives in the manufacturing process of plastics remain in animal tissue, which is then consumed by humans. These highly toxic and carcinogenic substances (benzene, styrene etc.) can cause damage to nervous systems, lungs and reproductive organs.

The European Commission recently released a list of top 10 single-use plastic items that it plans to ban in the near future. These items are ubiquitous as trash across the world’s beaches, even the pristine, seemingly untouched ones. Some of them, such as styrofoam cups, take up to a 1,000 years to photodegrade (the breakdown of substances by exposure to UV and infrared rays from sunlight), disintegrating into microplastics, another health hazard.

More than 60 countries have introduced levies and bans to discourage the use of single-use plastics. Morocco and Rwanda have emerged as inspiring success stories of such policies. Rwanda, in fact, is now among the cleanest countries on Earth. In India, Maharashtra became the 18th state to effect a ban on disposable plastic items in March 2018. Now India plans to replicate the decision on a national level, aiming to eliminate single-use plastics entirely by 2022. While government efforts are important to encourage industries to redesign their production methods, individuals too can take steps to minimise their consumption, and littering, of single-use plastics. Most of these actions are low on effort, but can cause a significant reduction in plastic waste in the environment, if the return of Olive Ridley turtles to a Mumbai beach are anything to go by.

To know more about the single-use plastics problem, visit Planet or Plastic portal, National Geographic’s multi-year effort to raise awareness about the global plastic trash crisis. From microplastics in cosmetics to haunting art on plastic pollution, Planet or Plastic is a comprehensive resource on the problem. You can take the pledge to reduce your use of single-use plastics, here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of National Geographic, and not by the Scroll editorial team.