It turns out that woke Hollywood's grandstanding over diversity and inclusion was nothing more than just grandstanding over diversity and inclusion, according to a recent study from USC's Annenberg Inclusion Initiative that shows white males still dominate the industry.
From the LGBT community to women to people of color, Hollywood just cannot seem to satisfy every demographic on the intersectionality scale no matter how many times Jimmy Kimmel virtue-signals from Oscar's bully-pulpit. In the USC report, titled "Inequality in 1,100 Popular Films," the top 100 movies between 2007 and 2017 showed "no significant statistical improvement in the representation" for the aforementioned groups.
"We're not seeing an interesting trend either downward or upward across multiple years to suggest there's a concerted effort to be inclusive," AII founding director Stacy L. Smith told The Hollywood Reporter.
Without going into any details behind the stories presented in these 100 popular films, the study simply looked at simple statistics, like women having only 31.8% of speaking characters, and concluded that Hollywood's patriarchal conspiracy must still be in place. More from THR:
This prevalence has held constant; among the 48,757 speaking characters in the 1,100 top-grossing films since 2007, just 30.6% have been female. One major reason for this gender disparity is that women have a much shorter onscreen 'lifespan' than men: There tends to be gender balance among child characters (52.7% male to 47.3% female in 2017), with the gap slightly widening in the teens (55.3% to 44.7%). But by age 40, 75.4% of characters were male.
None of this takes into account the significance a particular female character may have within a given story, which does not necessarily equal a line-for-line correlation with the male characters, but does show a clear imbalance in terms of screen-time and speaking roles between the two genders.
Here are the numbers for actors of color:
In 2017, 70.7 % of the 4,454 speaking characters were white, 12.1% were black, 6.2% were Hispanic, 4.8% were Asian, 3.9% were mixed-race, 1.7 % were of Middle Eastern descent and less than 1% each were coded as Native American or Native Hawaiian. It's worth noting that these designations are for characters, not actors – in 2015, one of the 3.6% of mixed-race speaking characters was Aloha's Allison Ng, played by Emma Stone.
Researchers blamed some of the disparities on "whitewashing" certain characters originally written as another race.
When it came to LGBT representation in popular movies, the numbers were even worse for "woke" Hollywood, with more than 99% of the speaking characters in 2017's films being straight and cisgender. Another 81 out of the 100 movies had no lesbian, gay or bisexual characters at all. For characters with a disability, the study laments that too many of the 2.5% of those who speaking roles were both white and male.
To combat this disparity, the study recommends that more talents adopt what's called an "inclusion rider" into their contracts, which dictates that top actors can contractually demand film projects to "reflect the world we actually live in by requiring diversity on screen and behind the camera," according to HuffPost.
According to the description of an inclusion rider, if an actor demands that the film reflect "the world we live in" exactly, then according to demographic statistics, a movie should be 75% white, 18% Latino, 13% black, and 5% Asian.
Obviously, this removes the fact that some stories require more of one race than the other. Some stories (like "Black Panther") require more black actors, while other stories are predominantly white. Some stories require a diverse cast while others do not.
Also, the average movie has about four lead roles at the max. How many of those should go to a minority versus supporting roles? Should all four leads be of a different race? Does that honestly reflect "real life"? Should a movie about a Jewish family in the Holocaust have a multi-racial cast based on the dictates of an inclusion rider? How many minority characters should be cast in a movie set during the European middle-ages?
As to placing more talent in front of the camera that reflects the "world we live in," affirmative action in those cases can have the same effect as affirmative action in other industries. Simply put: less-qualified people may be elevated to positions based on their race or gender while qualified individuals may be docked for not meeting that diversity quota. Just take a look at season two of "Jessica Jones," which "included" all female directors by excluding all male directors. That's not fair competition. That's not even competition. Everybody deserves the opportunity to show their quality on the stage and be judged solely on the basis of their talent, not skin color or gender.