Minority Women "Nearly Invisible" in Film

USC's latest report on inequality in film found that minority women were "nearly invisible" in Hollywood. The research by USC Annenberg's Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative calls women an "endangered species" in action and animated films.

Academics analyzed the 100 top-grossing films for 2014 and found that none of of them, save for those with ensemble casts, featured a woman 45 or older. They found only three non-ensemble films that featured minority women.

The percentage of women in speaking roles has actually gone down since 2007, when about 30 percent of films featured speaking women, USC found. In 2014 that percentage is 28.1 percent. That's about the percentage of films featuring women in sexy attire or at least partially nude. When it comes to men, that figure is 8 percent.

The report says "females function as eye candy" in top-grossing movies.

Only two of the directors in the top-grossing films were women. Less than one in five producers was female. About one in 10 writers was a woman. "Men outnumber women behind the camera at a rate of 5.3 to 1," the school said in a summary.

"Our findings demonstrate that women appear very infrequently behind the camera, but women of color are nearly invisible," said study co-author Katherine Pieper.

The researchers found that Latinos, in a town where one of every two people has Hispanic heritage, are "the most underrepresented compared to their presence in the U.S. population," the summary says. About 17 percent of Americans are Latino, making it the largest minority in the United States. Latinos have surpassed whites as the largest ethnic or racial group in California.

In top-grossing films, Latinos got only 4.9 percent of speaking roles, USC found. African-Americans got 12.5 percent. And Asian-Americans got 5.3 percent. More than 40 films had no films that featured people of Asian descent as characters who talk, researchers found.

"Hollywood continues to marginalize or exclude certain members of society," says USC Annenberg associate professor Stacy Smith, lead author of the study.

Minority Women "Nearly Invisible" in Film
USC

"The picture that film presents is one that bears little resemblance to our nation’s demography," Smith says. "By examining the trends over time, it is clear that no progress has been made either on screen or behind the camera when it comes to representing reality. This report reflects a dismal record of diversity for not just one group but for females, people of color and the LGBT community."

If this makes your blood boil, remember that the state Legislature last year decided to give this industry of moguls $1.6 billion of your hard-earned tax money. This in a state with crumbling roads and struggling public schools. And Hollywood is always asking for more.

Next time Hollywood suits come to taxpayers with their hands out, you might want to ask them to hire some folks that actually look like America does in 2015.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow L.A. Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.


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