It would be easy to think that we’ve reached a new golden age for representation in Hollywood. From the Cinderella story of Jordan Peele’s racially-charged horror flick Get Out and the critical acclaim for film adaptation of queer coming-of-age book, Call Me by Your Name to Marvel beginning to incorporate more racially-diverse heroes such as Black Panther and Ms. Marvel, while racial representation may be growing, it seems that, according to GLAAD’s annual “Studio Responsibility Index,” Hollywood has taken a few steps backward in terms of LGBTQ+ representation. 2017 was the worst representation of queer perspectives since the study’s inception in 2012.
The Studio Responsibility Index ranks the yearly film output of seven major studios, ranking each studio’s collective releases based on the “quality, quantity, and diversity” of their queer representation on a scale of “Excellent,” “Good,” “Insufficient,” “Poor,” or “Failing.” Of the seven studios, two of them — Universal and 20th Century Fox —were tied for first in terms of representation… with a rating a “Insufficient.”
The numbers show a significant drop in LGBTQ+ representation over just a years’ span, with only 12.8% of studio films featuring queer characters in 2017 as compared to 2016’s 18.4%. In addition to this decline, the report showed that the number of trans characters in studios dropped from a paltry (and controversial) 1 to an even more embarrassing 0:
This was a decrease from the one trans character featured in a major studio film in 2016 — which was Benedict Cumberbatch’s character in Zoolander 2. Even then, the character was a controversial punchline and not representative of the LGBTQ community. That said, 2017 wasn’t as cinematically woke as we thought.
There is a small silver lining to all of this, though, one that coalesces with aforementioned trends of increased racial diversity within the Hollywood studio system: although the study only counted 28 characters outside of the heterosexual norm being represented, 15 of them were people of colour. It’s a start, but 2018, we need to do better.